Laughing at old films makes you an idiot

I was chatting with a friend the other day about Quatermass and the Pit; a film both of us shared as one of our favourite horror films and how I’ve never seen it on a big screen as I’ve never had the chance to. He mentioned he did have the chance to but after going to a cinema showing of Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue where the audience laughed throughout the film he couldn’t muster the energy to go sit in a cinema full of wankers sneering at an old film.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t laugh at old, bad films like an Ed Wood classic, or somesuch rubbish like Troll 2, but if you’ve paid money to go and see a classic film like Quatermass and the Pit, and all you do is sit there with your 21st century viewpoint (and fail to appreciate it as a film) just sneering because others are doing the same then it frankly makes you a bully and well as an idiot. There will be people there who want to see the film and watch it without your snarky commentary but your entitlement means you make people’s experience awful for a few seconds jolly.

There is an argument that some people, mainly Millennials, don’t see film as art but as a fashion so whatever film is trending and fits what is fashionable this week. I don’t quite buy that as the sole reason (though I think it plays a part) but this has something that’s been discussed for a few years now. This somewhat sad piece titled Stop Laughing At Old Movies, You $@%&ing Hipsters outlines the problem when during a viewing of Mario Bava’s Hercules in the Haunted World, this happens…

The guy behind me munching Sour Patch Kids and wearing an ironic Hawaiian shirt kept up the chuckles for 91 minutes, long after I began to beseech Zeus to throw a non-styrofoam boulder at him. His stubborn laughter was an advertisement for his own superiority, like it’s heroic to refuse to be “suckered” by a fake rock that’s obviously fake. But there’s nothing triumphant about being too cool to dream.

And this is the problem. People can’t suspend their disbelief as after all, that involves putting effort into it. If you’re used to seeing film as two hours where you’re spoon-fed what you want and when you see what films people have laughed at (including John Carpenter’s The Thing, which would have driven me to murder had I been there) you do wonder if it is a case where people really have lost the ability to imagine or understand nuance, or even put things in the context of the time.

Another article points out the reaction to a showing of From Russia With Love.

“It’s sad to think that there was once a time when Hollywood released dozens of movies like this each year, and millions of people went to see them, and enjoyed themselves, and laughed, and sang along, and got wrapped up in the story, and that if the same kind of movies were released right now, people would laugh at them and call them unsophisticated. That so many of you could sit there and snicker at ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for being unsophisticated depresses me beyond words. This movie is not unsophisticated. You are.”

This is I think the problem. People are no longer sophisticated in the sense they can put themselves in a time and place, or understand film as an art. Who needs nuance when you’ve got <insert this months blockbuster here> to fill your needs and this is a pity because of ignorance and peer pressure people are losing the history of their culture. Also if people just put themselves into the moment they may find themselves enjoying something their peers may not, but fuck their peers think for yourselves & that’s something I hope people do more of.

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Peter Wyngarde has passed away

For people of a certain age, Peter Wyngarde was the face of the school holidays where you’d be glued to the telly watching repeats of Jason King or Department S. He later of course cut a wonderful baddie in Flash Gordon as Klytus.

Wyngarde was one of those actors who ended up inspiring a whole load of people from Mike Myers for his Austin Powers character, to Chris Claremont and John Byrne for their X Men run with the ‘Jason Wyngarde’ character.

He was so popular at one point he released a solo album titled imaginatively enough, Peter Wyngarde. It has a track called Rape.

Moving on, he also did a fantastic version of Neville Thumbcatch which just sums up that point in the early 70’s where the hippy dream hasn’t fully died yet, but we’re also falling into a cultural mess that ends up in Punk in 1976.

So cheerio to one of those characters we’ll never, ever have again…

In praise of the NHS in Scotland

The NHS is under attack. The UK’s once proud service which millions of us use every year has suffered decades of successive Westminster governments hacking away at it in order to open it up more for full privatisation. In Scotland, Tory, and a few Labour MSP’s sit in eager anticipation of someone photogenic dying on a trolley in a Scottish hospital so they can launch weeks of attacks on a service pushed to the limit but somehow managing to not fall apart. As a service the NHS in Scotland stands ahead of other services in the UK mainly because the Tories haven’t got their grubby hands on it.

This is not to have a go at the NHS in England. After all it saved my life. Twice. Since retuning to Scotland in November 2016 to mainly recuperate, but also to escape the collapse of the NHS in England,I’ve been a frequent user of the SNHS. I’ve praised the NHS back in Bristol who were amazing, but as the staff here have done the dull day-to-day stuff of helping me pull myself together rather than the lifesaving part it is only fair to give the staff the credit they deserve against a wave of shocking political opportunism from Ruth Davidson’s Tories (and we know exactly what as Tories they’d do here in Scotland)   and the empty dead-eyed vacuousness of Richard Leonard’s student politics.

Of course all parties throw around the NHS as a political weapon yet I don’t think folk here in Scotland quite understand just what is happening in England, and the possible consequences of letting what we have in a fairly well protected NHS in Scotland, slip. For the last 15 months I’ve been improving in health, returned to work, and yesterday (barring anything unexpected in my bloods) was confirmed to be in remission for cancer for a year so I’m past the first crucial marker and can start thinking of the future as my survival chances are now pretty much normal though my stroke recovery may well affect that.

That’s thanks to NHS staff who’ve poked, prodded, helped and in the case of the physios I’ve seen, get me walking again. There’s all the ancillary staff, plus the folk at MacMillan and the staff at The Beatson. All these people do an astonishing job in hard times and having to spend the winter listening to the likes of Ruth Davidson kick the NHS when she’d gladly rip its heart out is demoralising for me, so I’ve no idea how the staff feel.

I’d like to see like-minded parties come together and work out a long term plan to protect the NHS, especially with Brexit threatening to hurt Scotland so badly, but party politics come first it seems but I wish these people would remember that lives are saved, or made better, every day by people who work ridiculous hours for money that isn’t enough while being kicked (sometimes literally) by supposed allies and foes alike.

So thanks to the NHS. We need to all work together to preserve what we’ve got or frankly, people like me won’t be around to write blogs like this.

My top 5 YouTube channels

YouTube has been around now since 2005 so a generation has grown up with the streaming service as a platform to publish videos, while those of us digital immigrants have adapted to this newish medium which has helped transform how we view what they used to call ‘motion pictures’ in the olden days. Of late YouTube has had a bad press thanks to wankers like Logan Paul, but there’s a number of really creative channels out there putting out the sort of work which is of such a high standard that it puts most film and television to shame. Here then is a top five in no special order of channels you should watch.

5/ hiimmarymary

Hi I’m Mary Mary is one of the tens of dozens, even hundreds of horror webseries out there but under the jump scare obsessed masses, this takes time to build up a very Silent Hill type of creepiness in a strange scenario before the scares (and the scares are earned) kick in.  The series is ongoing still but here’s the first one which sets the mood.

4/ Infochammel

There’s a touch of the Chris Morris about this fictional channel which is a pisstake of those horrendous shopping channels mixed with daytime telly. It is on the whole, genius and here’s a sample…

3/ Petscop

There’s loads of internet myths about ‘haunted video games’ but few manage to act as a story in its own right as well as acting as a nice satire of that genre of YouTube video where people play through games. In this case the set-up is that someone has found an old Playstation 1 game and is playing it for the first time with us as viewers. This also subverts a genre and the less said about what happens the better as it is a joy…

2/ Don’t hug me I’m Scared

This starts as a kids TV show and then goes places as it tells a story in six parts. It is by far the best thing you’ll see today.

1/Red Letter Media

There’s lots of review channels on YouTube. Most are shite, but this one run by Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman does that trick of managing to critique films, take the piss out of YouTube review videos and do something you can probably only do on YouTube. Stuff like this for example..

There’s loads of crap on YouTube but dig deep enough and you’ll get gems like the stuff listed here and more as we enter a new age where anyone can upload anything and the only thing separating them from the masses is talent, ideas and creativity. All of these channels display that in abundance…

The ongoing ignorance of the public when encountering the disabled

I take the train most days. This week the students returned as did most people after the Christmas and New Year holidays which has seen trains go from half empty to crammed full of people staring intently at their phones. Now the thing about being disabled is that life isn’t a series of inspirational stock images but near ceaseless daily struggles where one just wants an easy life and to do things like use the train without being made to stand because every other fucker is glued intently to whatever pish they’re blandly staring at on their phones.

Well today was the solid gold jackpot. Not only was I forced to stand because people are selfish, but a young woman in her early 20’s and her guide dog also had to stand. Now there’s nothing the rail companies can do to enforce basic human decency, nor am I asking to get people to move because I’m tired just trying to pass as normal without having to go through the possibility that you’ll get the eye-roll, the heavy ‘tut’  as they make an effort to move akin to Moses splitting the Red Sea asunder.

So if you’re on a train, or a bus, and you see someone with walking sticks or a fucking guide dog, standing while you’re sitting there swiping through Tinder wondering what Lynx-soaked mass of flesh attracts you then you’re probably an arsehole. All I’m asking is pay attention to your environment. As a human being we’ve been capable of doing it since before we were able to walk upright so I’m sure you can manage it.

City of no sun

It is January in Glasgow. The last time it was daylight seems like a lifetime ago but it obviously wasn’t, but to say that I’m not dealing with the seeming perpetual night badly since moving back at the end of 2016 but I am. At least last winter I was in almost constant pain and/or on painkillers for most of it but this winter that isn’t the case.

And to think I nearly moved to Sweden at one point in the 2000’s.

Anyhow, I bring this up as in less than a week I go back to hospital for a few tests which will show whether I’m still in remission from the papillary thyroid cancer that left me with an interesting neck scar in 2016. If I am then all is good and myself and my doctors can carry of focusing on the stroke recovery as well as I get to decide just what to do with myself in life. If it isn’t then winter will just get a tad darker.

I should hopefully have all test results, etc back by next Friday so come back then for a fun update as to how bloody dark it is.

Stan Lee is the latest person accused of sexual abuse

One of the things about the post-Harvey Weinstein world where #metoo shows how prevalent sexual abuse is and just how badly a large number of people are as their reputation lie in tatters. Although there are issues with the campaign it has done good, there is some concern of a new wave of puritanism, which has indeed sparked off the French, but that is to be expected…

With things being as they are it seems anyone is up for accusations of sexual abuse, with the latest big name being Stan Lee.In an exclusive by the Daily Mail, Lee is accused of groping nurses, demanding oral sex and generally being a bit creepy. Lee’s lawyers in turn have sent out cease and desist letters to the Mail, and the whole thing gets played out in public with nobody knowing the facts and with the Mail’s piece being a masterclass in supposition, hints and rumour we won’t get the truth from that fascist rag either, though at least it calls Lee a co-creator of characters like Spider-Man so there’s at least an ability to look up Wikipedia.

My point is I’m concerned by this trial by media as in a time when everyone is so polarised and as the cases of Toby Young and Jared O’Mara shows, both the establishment left and right have issues with sexism and we seem to have taken one step forward and two steps back.

If Lee is found guilty of crimes on a court of law rather than the court of Twitter then fuck him, but until he is, he’s going to be dragged into this highly charged and polarised atmosphere where everything is seen in absolutes and there’s no room for anything else & in the era of Brexit and Trump this polarisation isn’t a healthy thing for society.