Sunday 15 April 2012

Horses for Horses

Most of which I will write about today will in face be things that happened yesterday as I couldn’t fit it all in alongside going on and on about horses.

I’m first just going to say a bit more about horses and the Grand National. Just a bit.

I just want to be clear I didn’t mean to be dismissive of horses, certainly of cruelty to them. Indeed I do not approve of cruelty to animals in general – yes, I am truly amazing; listen to the people beatifying me “oh he doesn’t approve of people kicking dogs to death, let’s make him a saint.” When I said there are bigger things to worry about aren’t there? I was just trying to point out that there are quite a lot of human beings suffering in the world, being killed in wars to promulgate the status quo and generally being shit on by the rich and the powerful. As I pointed out this is often quite a weak counter-argument, bad things are not things we should let happen just because there are badderer things.

But, you know what I’m getting at don’t you? To be shallow, lets just sort human beings out: men and women, races and religions all equal. Then worry about animals dying in sport. Alternatively let’s save a lot of time worrying about where we draw the line with animals and what counts as cruelty to them; we can only do this by giving all living things the same rights as people. I warn you, though, this is going to end badly. If you want to all creatures being equal there is only one logical conclusion: I am talking a woman marrying to and fathering children with a weasel. And almost certainly images of a man having sexual congress with a moth – all over internet sex porn sites.

Come on, horse racing is a bit shit when the horses pop their hooves but it’s hardly the same as blindfolding a horse, injecting it with heroin and then cheering as 19 trained fighters beat it to death with house bricks and cricket bats.

Derek

I really feel I should mention that I have almost nothing to say about Ricky Gervais’ recent show, Derek. As has been mentioned in these hallowed blogs I’m losing love for Gervais minute-by-minute.

I had half a mind (yes, that much) to be outraged by the programme just by reading this review in The Guardian.

Particularly this passage:

“OK, so the title character isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but is that really mocking disabled and mentally ill people? Can you ban simpletons, even ones who are bathed in a warm light? Baldrick, Bean, Bottom, all cancelled, by PC plod?”

Well they are just stupid people aren’t these characters aren’t they? Laughing at someone being a bit dense and not grasping an idea is not really the same thing as laughing at, with the emphasis on ‘at’, someone because they are disabled in some way. I suppose Bean has his odd, rarely used voice. But essentially they are just stupid people. Gervais does a voice and a gurn that just feels a bit off to me. And while I am not saying he portrayed a character where the joke was that he was disabled, I am saying that it feels a bit like the gurn/hair/voice are part of the character while also being part of being a little bit offensive. Here’s where I have a few problems, with my own fledgling opinion.

If I have a problem with this am I hypocritical liking Dustin Hoffman in Rainman and Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump?* Well I am not convinced I am. Those are highly nuanced performances and I don’t think either demean people with the conditions the actors are portraying. I don’t quite feel that with Derek. Maybe a big part of this is that Gervais has often posted himself doing ‘funny’ faces on his Twitter (though these didn’t seem to be there when I looked) and on his blog. You know what you think and would describe these faces as. I am not saying he is doing a ‘mental face’. I am implying it and that is a different thing. Like this one, is the joke here about anything other than a dodgy gurning face being funny. Regardless of the pathos added to such a joke by narrative of Derek, I don’t think having seen pictures like this for a few years of following Ricky’s career could remove a nagging feeling that there was something a bit off about the character programme. Maybe that’s just me.

Away from that prickly issue, was it any good? I think the fact that I’ve been going on about that for a few paragraphs tells its own story. I tend to be able to forgive a lot of stuff when something artistic is of a high quality. It’s not that Derek is bad, it’s just that it’s not that…good, for want of a better adjective. It wasn’t as bad/hard to watch as large chunks of Life is Short. Ultimately I just didn’t know what it was trying to say or why it was trying to say it and there wasn’t really a story being told. I can accept a good story occurring for no real reason but I just found myself wondering why would a documentary film crew be making this documentary. When you’re questioning and doubting the fictional framework in which a story is based then there’s a pretty good chance you’re not swept up in the world and, therefore, aren’t enjoying it.

It wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t the worst thing created at the hand of Gervais. I can’t just put my hesitancy to enjoy it down to any moral confusion over the rights and wrongs of mental disability. To be shallow about my lack of enjoyment: I didn’t think it was that funny and I felt like the female lead, Kerry Godliman, (who was good in the role) was a character I’ve seen Gervais write a few times before. And I completely understand that people have different opinions and likes and dislikes but I can’t believe the reviews giving this a lot of praise are doing it because it’s Ricky Gervais.

The fucking horses again. I’ve still got stuff from Saturday to do….sorry curry anecdote, you’re bumped again. If we can’t fit you in Monday’s blog then we’ll give it up as a bad idea.

*I don’t really like Forrest Gump – this was entirely stated to fuel the side of my mind that wanted me to be right about Gervais belittling the physicality of some mentally disabled people.

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