Monday, 19 November 2012

Metal Outlaw TV and my philosophy on UK TV

With the imminent appearance of Metal Outlaw TV's debut episode I thought it was a good opportunity for a wee bit of a rant. Hopefully the show is going down well and people are interested enough to start following it. Now although I am promoting the show here I actually want to get a little "analytical" and discuss where my head has been at and what I have learned through it all.

This past year has been a real trial for me. It started with a major drought in paying work and had me questioning my future doing what I'm doing. A scary prospect given that I'm OLD (as I've been cheekily described as lately). When things picked up around summer time I was still lacking passion for what I was doing and I was wondering why. To be perfectly blunt I haven't been happy for around 90% of this calender year. It wasn't until the last couple of weeks that I finally put together why I've been feeling the way I have. It all came down to being put on the spot by a friend who asked the weighted question, "Colin, what do you want?" I'm sure anyone reading this wouldn't  feel the slightest bit rattled by this question but in the frame of mind I've been in it really made me sit back and re-evaluate. Well taking personal life out of the equation because I've known what the solution to that is and really depends of finding my opposite number. On the other aspects of life front  I've concluded I want to see my views, perspective, tastes in music, sense of humour, and "self" represented on screen and in society. "Why?" you ask. Well because in a so called diverse society priding itself being tolerant of cultural diversity everyone deserves to have their tastes catered for. Yet funnily enough I don't think British television does a good enough job at that.

I fit in to a minority of people who you would consider different from the norm. I look at the current crop of "prime time" entertainment (some of which I've worked on) and I just can not fathom it's appeal. Lets take some examples of "quality" British programming. "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!" I read this point on Facebook the other night and it hit the nail on the head. The premise of the show is the in essence Big Brother fused together with a 20 year old show concept from Japan, "Endurance", a show that 20 years ago was pointed at and ridiculed by Chris Tarrant (Tarrant on TV) for being juvenile and a bit cruel. It WAS juvenile and a bit cruel but it was okay to point at and laugh because we didn't make it. It was those wacky Japanese and they're nuts. We in Britain would never stoop such low brow depths. Fast forward 20 years and apparently it's okay to show cruel, mean spirited challenges as long as a group of Z-list celebrities are involved. By the way, when I say cruel I mean to the animals harmed/devoured during the show's challenges not the celebrities. I value a cockroaches life more than some poor desperate sod clinging on to what little fame they had in the 80's. On that note moving on...

How about, Geordie Shore, The Only Way is Essex, Real Gypsy Weddings? Shows like this are even trashier in my opinion. Not only have these shows convinced a whole generation that a skin tone that does not exist naturally on this planet (and hopefully none other) is "sexy". Seriously I wonder if these people glow in the dark, they've smeared so much crap over their prematurely aging bodies. Perhaps I don't get the aesthetic appeal of this but it is only part of my point. My real issue with this kind of show is that it is yet again cruel. It allows the audience to shake their heads at these people who are presented as the lowest common denominator and made to be figures of ridicule through selective editing. Now they are being paid for the "privilage" of having 15 minutes of fame so it is hard for me to feel sorry for them but why does the majority viewing audience get a kick out of people being presented as figures to be thoroughly humiliated? To me this type of show and the "I'm a Celeb" are like the modern day equivalent of putting people in stocks and taking pleasure in tossing rotten fruit at them. In fact it has a lot in common with the torture porn genre of film as it focuses unpleasant people having unpleasant things happen to them for the enjoyment of the viewing audience.

I could go on about this theme of cruelty... X-Factor/The Voice, Take Me Out, The Scheme... to name but a few. However, I'm going to leave it at that as I think you get the point that as a viewer I do not feel these shows represent what I want to see on television. Should they be banned? Absolutely not but I want to know is, "Where's my alternative?" Now I'm well aware that there are a ton of quality American shows on our screens and thank fuck for "The Big Bang Theory", "Sons of Anarchy", "Battlestar Galactica" and the numerous shows that I haven't had the time to watch but hopefully will (Dexter, The Wire, Breaking Bad). What we are talking about is domestic television and as someone who has his toes dipped in that industry, how I feel about the quality of programming we're producing is complete and utter apathy. I will go as far to say I have never worked on a television show that I'd actually watch. Now I want to stress I am not talking ill of the experiences I've had just the end result. I mean one of my favourite jobs was working on the auditions for The Voice. A top notch crew and lovely lovely people to boot.  So before I go on a tangent I once again ask, "Where is my television show, UK? Why aren't my tastes being met in the age of multi-channel television? Which surely encourage diversity and variety above everything else. 

Simply put I believe it's because I'm not normal enough. I'm a freak. I'm an intense, morally high strung, straight edge loner, who listens to heavy metal, plays video games, and loves a good conspiracy theory. I don't want to see cruel mean spirited programming. I want to see a video game review show. I want to see counter culture programming giving a critical opposing view to popular culture. I want to see rock music back on our screens. Scuzz and Kerrang absolutely do not count. Where can I find that? Not on TV that's for sure. Thank fuck for the internet. As a rule I spend more time on Cinemassacre, ThatGuyWithTheGlasses, Blistered Thumbs than I do watching TV. The simple reason for this is as an outsider it gives me what I need in entertainment. Why isn't stuff like this on television in the UK? Do we really need to see "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps" repeated on BBC3 for the 60 millionth time? Why not commit half an hour a week to let Ashen's review tat on his sofa? So being that I'm a metal fan and I really don't think anyone has nailed a web show centered around that theme yet. I decided to give it a bash. This is the idea behind Metal Outlaw TV. It is very much in it's genesis at the moment. To most people who aren't the target demographic it might seem to be low brow shit... and you'd have a point. It is low brow (especially Metal Spoken Word) and it may even be a bit shit if you're just casually looking on. However, it's my kind of shit and I've got to think that there are more of me out there who feel the same way. Remember what I said about having myself represented? Well this is it. Now you could argue that I am a hypocrite for putting the moral guilt trip on the majority viewing audience when I have made a video or two featuring poetry readings containing offensive and explicit lyrics. That is fair comment but in my defense it is only language. Words hold no real power. In fact they only really hold any value when used with intent. "I'm going to kill you!" with a smile on your face is vastly different from the same words wielding a knife. Get my point? Probably not.  That is why I see the PC brigade as a bunch of prissy grammar nazi's. Is a man reading lyrics about cumming blood anywhere near as offensive as degrading exploitation of human beings for the sake of entertainment (*cough* *cough* I'm a Celeb)? From my moral stance I'd say "No!" and I think I've justified my point adequately. The rest of you may feel differently and if you can argue your point better than mine I'll concede that you might be right. All I know is Metal Outlaw TV has made me enjoy what I'm doing again and I hope to make it in to a successful brand so that I no longer have to work on British television shows that I can never enjoy. Hopefully this rant makes sense to someone out there even if it is only a freak like me. Till next time, Cheers.