And so, by popular demand from Facebook friends and Twitter followers, my blog review of my BBC review of In The Loop.
First, let me express my continuing confusion as to what does and does not connect with you online community people. I mean, yesterday morning I posted a moderately thoughtful blog about the lessons from Obama’s campaign based on a new Fabian Society book and a panel discussion, and in came a few comments to the website, next to none on Facebook and Twitter.
Then, a bit bored and with writer’s block setting in as I rewrote the ending to my next novel, I twitter (or should that be tweet? – I have not worked out my nouns and my verbs yet) the question as to whether it is too post-modern for me to blog a review of my own review of In The Loop on BBC 2’s The Culture Show. Whoosh … in they come by the screenload – some say no, very funnily, most say yes, go for it. So I will.
Now a bit of background. As I said in an earlier blog, the Culture Show’s original idea was for me to watch it with psychopathic spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, or at least the actor who plays him, Peter Capaldi, and his creator, Armando Ianucci. Despite my agreeing to this, the idea never materialised and so I watched it with Mark Kermode instead.
Kermode seems to be someone who divides opinion. Perhaps that’s why we got on ok. I didn’t know that much about him, but since it became known I had done a programme with him, I’ve had lots of people saying they really like him – a Burnley fan at Ipswich said he was ‘a God’ and looked like he was going to punch me when I said I thought that might be overstating it – and a few who really don’t, like the Facebook message this morning that said he looked like Michael Portillo after a stroke. Harsh.
I have to speak as I find and I found him engaging, clever and easy to get on with, though I had to take him to task for his lazy post-pre-post-modern view that all politics is crass and venal. Again, to be fair, they kept that bit in last night, and believe me, they had a lot of material to choose from. Oh my God, we were there for hours. Poor James Gandolfini – aka Tony Soprano – who plays a pacificst American general, never got a look in. Ditto the discussion about whether MPs hate their constituents – I think they don’t, the film suggests they do.
So the judgement for me becomes whether they made a reasonably interesting film and whether it captured the nub of the argument we had. On the second point, I think they did, though it was interesting how many Facebookers and Twitterers said they still couldn’t work out whether I really liked it or not – I didn’t – and whether I would recommend it – I would, but not if you want it to be as funny as The Thick of It, and not if Damned United or The Class are showing at the same cinema.
On the first point, given it was just two blokes watching a film and then talking about it, I thought they did ok with what they had. Perhaps more relevant is the view of the woman lying in bed with me as I watched it (yes, I’m an early to bed early to rise man and yes, it was Fiona) who said ‘they keep asking you the same thing in a different way and you keep saying the same thing in a different way.’ That’s what strategic communications is all about, dear. I was taking another opportunity to defend politics and the political class against cynicism but in a different context to my usual blathering. Oh, she said.
I must also thank Fiona for the nice new white shirts she bought me a few weeks ago when she was busy promoting her book about the need to share the domestic workload more. There was quite a fuss (for BBC continuity reasons) about whether I could watch it part with jacket on, part with jacket off. In the end, the style police said ok to have jacket on to arrive, but jacket off for whole film or on for the whole film. I think the white shirt and red tie worked against the red seats. Two men in suits watching a film – nah.
Anyway, to those who said reviewing your own review was post- modern, post- structrual, self-promotion gone mad, or just plain bullshit, many thanks for watching, reading and commenting.
I’m doing Radio 5 Live at half eight, defending social workers. They called because they had read my blog about social workers a couple of weeks ago when I said Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey did a great job making the case for social workers. So someone’s out there … even if the social worker blog also got less response from Facebookers and Twitterers than my tweet about The Culture Show. I’ll work it all out one day, but then there’ll be another phenomenon to catch up with.