In October I wrote a short play for Central’s new writing showcase/scratch night thingy – a gig where works-in-progress can be put in front of an audience so the writers can see how they play and fix them, basically. That play is called Catholicon and you can see it here, if you’d like. It’s not quite finished yet (and the… Read more →
So I’ve not been doing so many reviews and things lately – and severely neglecting Duende/my inbox – because I’ve been working on something else that has literally eaten all my brain and replaced it with an empty husk of dialogue and stage directions. And the best thing is I’ve got at least seven more similar items to write before… Read more →
When I was in uni (the first time), I basically spent my actual study time studying theory – history, psychology, etc. Of theatre and cinema. Yeah film psychology is totally a thing.
When I wasn’t doing that, I was over at The Other Uni – namely, the colleges of Cambridge – auditioning for plays, which is something we were allowed to do. It wasn’t that ARU didn’t have plays, because we did, it was just that I was a crazy person and wanted to do as many as possible. So, I did.
One of the things that came up almost every time, when doing auditions, was that everybody was writing a play. Literally, everybody. They were either writing plays about Nietzsche or – more likely – comedy sketches to try and get into Footlights. I was never going to achieve either of those, really. But I wrote things. I wrote scripts all through school – started out writing Friends fanfiction (this was in the earlier days of the medium, before ‘fanfiction’ became synonymous with ‘Twilight-influenced porn’) and eventually started on my own things. I had my one-act comedy play, long since lost. I only ever showed it to my uni boyfriend, who said he thought it was good. Somewhat predictable, given that saying it was shit would likely have resulted in diminished fun times for him. Credit where credit’s due on the common sense front.
And then… I stopped. Completely. It’s a bit too personal to get into, but we’ll just say a combination of factors has meant I’ve not written any kind of fiction thing for about 5 years now.
The point of my writing this blog, then, is really only one thing: I have had an idea knocking around in my head for a couple of years now and, seeing the recent success of fellow Ladies Wot Do TV Writing, combined with the fact I might actually now have something to say (something sorely lacking at age 20), have decided to give it a go. Basically, if I write it here then it’s public, and that means I have to actually get on with it. Which is terrifying, because as anyone who knows me can testify, there is nothing I am quite so spectacularly good at as putting off doing things. However, as it turns out, public shame and nagging will get me everywhere.
This may turn out to be horrifically bad. It almost certainly will turn out a complete shambles. But in keeping with my aims for 2012, which can broadly be described as “please don’t be as shit and underachieving as the last three years”, let’s give it a go, shall we?
Well this is one of those things I try and avoid writing, lest my career (such as it is) be derailed beyond repair. But, alas, no longer.
Neil McCormick’s review of Kylie’s Anti-Tour in today’s Telegraph has set the cat among the pigeons for all the wrong reasons. Rather than reviewing what actually took place on stage, he opted to review instead what Kylie didn’t do – and, in the process, showing a woeful disdain not only for his subject but his audience, too.
McCormick didn’t understand the point of the tour, namely that it’s ‘for the fans’ and, thus, designed to consist of B-sides and rarities. It was a show by a pop geek, for the ultimate pop geeks (and I assure you, pop geeks are quite possibly the biggest geeks of all). A chief critic for a national newspaper should know this basic fact, but apparently even learning that was beneath McCormick, who proceeded to rip into Kylie and the show for being dull as ditchwater. Ironic, coming from the man with endless rampant love for soft rock acts like Dry The River, and whose career has in large part been defined by “I was at school with Bono” to the point of parody. Worse than that, his comments appear to have been defined by the notion that the audience was made up of:
Wow, way to go with defining exactly who is and isn’t an acceptable music fan in the broadest, most offensive terms possible McCormick. Why not just say “You are banned from liking music unless you are a straight man between the ages of 40 and 55” and let the music concentration camps take their rightful place? You could be their spokesperson, the bloke on the adverts promising a better life awaits upon submission to the McCartney Conditioning Programme. It’s for the good of musical heritage everywhere, after all.
The music blogosphere shouldn’t be surprised, though – this is just par for the course. Certainly, I’ve pitched articles – even, in a couple of cases, been asked to write them – which have been turned down because they’re ‘not quite right’ for the publication’s viewpoint. Which is fine, except for those same publications publishing the same articles written a thousand times before, about Radiohead or Beatles or Stone Roses, while at the same time complaining there’s nothing new being said about music. There’s loads being said about music, and film, and the arts in general – with times as they are how could there not be? Look at Twitter, the DiS message boards, the Popjustice message boards for that matter, or even (God forbid) across the pond to see how the Americans, Village Voice and Rolling Stone for example, write about music sometimes. It’s not that it’s not happening, it’s that you’re so driven by SEO rankings (on websites), and the presumed tastes of the ‘elder’ demographics that actually buy papers, that you’ve stopped looking beyond them. It’s the follow the herd mentality – “There go my people, I must find out where they are going so I can lead them”. No, our job is to reflect what’s happening in the world of music – all of it, not just the bits your focus groups tell you appeal to the demographics with the most disposable income.
Not only would it not make that much sense for me personally to write those old-school articles, but they tend to be multiple articles written by the same people. I could write those articles – tried to when I first started – but I’m mainly a pop girl, and one who doesn’t want to sound bored by the sound of her own voice, writing for the sake of it. If I write a review and above all you’re not entertained, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, I’ve failed. If I wrote those by-the-numbers articles, I’d be doing a disservice to all concerned. Similarly, I could – and, indeed, have – written articles with a feminist viewpoint, but while some publications want your feminism to come in the form of a screaming, man-hating-Zooey-Deschanel-hating-cupcake-hating banshee*, others don’t want any discussion of women at all. Not even, say, the fact that a *lot* of our current pop stars are solo female artists, of all creeds and colours and Hoxton haircuts. I hate the ‘Wimmin in Rock’ as much as anyone else, but when it comes down to not even acknowledging a lot of those artists – one of pop’s continuing major trends – in favour of the same male artists AGAIN, it’s getting a bit silly.
For me, it’s gotten to the point where I’m not often pitching at the moment, because even after tailoring my ideas to exactly the kind of articles publications tend to publish already, they still tend not to fit. In a nutshell, in the grand scheme of things my views are often wonky. You could argue that’s a sign I’m on the wrong career path, of course – but surely, if I want to read those articles (why else would I pitch them?), someone else must too? I certainly don’t expect handouts – please, fuck off now if you think that’s the point of this – but lately I’ve certainly struggled with the idea that actually, my so-called wonky viewpoint might actually just be wrong. Despite people enjoying my writing. I’m not that out there by a long stretch, so if there’s no place for my views, that must by extension mean there’s no place for a lot of views, except on the sidelines. And that’s a hugely damaging precedent to set.
Writers like McCormick, who continue to skew the status quo of what constitutes ‘good’ music journalism in favour of the same things we were writing about 30 years ago, stuck in a timewarp where Rock Is Good and Pop Is Bad and Never The Two Shall Meet, make it that much more difficult for alternative viewpoints to come through. This should be a boon time for arts journalism – we’ve never had it better in terms of choice, viewpoints or – let’s be honest – controversy. Instead, all that’s often said, led by the Gold Standard presented by writers like McCormick, is “Well, it is what it is”. And that’s not good enough for anyone.
*Just to clarify: I love men (even when they’re rubbish and don’t understand the concept of talking), Zooey seems to me to be a lot more sensible than she gets credit for, and I am an equal opportunities cake-eater. Honestly, don’t care if you stick a cupcake or a wodge in front of me, I’ll eat it without worrying for a second about being infantilised by the patriarchal system.