Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Future Shock

Meaning "the physical and psychological distress suffered by one who is unable to cope with the rapidity of social and technological changes," the term was coined by Alvin Toffler in 1970. I've just found that out. I thought it was coined by Judge Dredd in 2000AD: the sufferers were called "futsies" and scooted around malls at knee-height in mink stoles with saucepans on their heads, swinging machetes. But how - I wondered back then in 1988 - did they know they were living in the Future? Why did they call it Future Shock? When I'm in the future, will I know? Will it feel like the Future? I liked the idea that I might - that I wouldn't take the Future for granted. And I've always had a taste since then for depictions of the present that focus on the jolt, which is what's posted below... Buster Keaton and The Twilight Zone - two of my favourite things! I found this last night. Apparently Richard Matheson's script originally consisted of nothing but a big chase, which would have been terrific. That's not how it ended up, and not all the episode is as good as this bit. But then, what is?

The full episode: "Once Upon A Time" is here.
This deleted scene from The Avengers is also beautiful on the jolt.
And parenthetically - this being the year 2013 - has anyone else noticed how many posters recently have completely done away with imagery? Just big phrases. It's grim. The year is 2013. And what the hell is a "Festival of Neighbourhood"?

Friday, 14 June 2013

David Shayler has other ideas.

What I really want to write about is Jon Ronson's "The Pychopath Test" - which first alerted me to the current state of former MI5 whistleblower Shayler's internal narrative let's call it - and Phillip K. Dick, and Brian Aldiss' thoughts on ECG testing, and all sorts of research for "Time Spanner" and modern epiphanies. But that's going to take ages so here, I'll just drop you right in this... God it's funny if you can forget it's actually happening to someone:

"When I first woke up I was told by Jesus that we would be hit by massive solar activity in 2012, and part of my mission was to gather together 2,000,000 children to sing "Greensleeves" to calm down the effects of this solar activity." And so on, and so on... Willy Mason said it so much better.

Jimmy Fallon has all the best ideas.

Or his writers do, I don't know, however it works. Obviously looking up old US talk-show clips on youtube isn't all I've been doing with my evenings (and afternoons*) but - you know how it is - the mind gets into a groove, you work evenings, mostly, and you've moved again so there's loads of conveniently out-of-the-way stuff in boxes to once again find less convenient places for and you feel at home finally but you've become so used to feeling displaced and so YES... I have been watching quite a bit of Jimmy Fallon AS IT HAPPENS.

The scope for unchecked, sloppy fun paradoxically afforded by the industrial-scale demands of a nightly American talk-show (as opposed to its weekly UK counterpart) is a contradiction I first fell for back watching The Larry Sanders Show nearly twenty years ago, long before youtube gave me access to the less fictional snippets of Conan, Jay, Letterman, Kimmell and Craig Ferguson (Craig Ferguson?!) which I now sort-of-I-guess-enjoy, but my enthusiasm for the theatrical and even pastoral responsibilities of the nightly hour-long telly treadmill has remained  undimmed and chipper. John Oliver has of course just taken over hosting duties on The Daily Show, I know, and yay! - but the political focus and consequence of that particular gig make it a bad example of what I'm trying to talk about here. This is what I'm talking about:

This is Jimmy Fallon. Until recently I knew him only as the corpsing drummer in that Will Ferrell sketch where Christopher Walken says "More Cow Bell" (good luck finding that online) but the more familiar I become with Fallon's talent the more convinced I am it's really Fallon's frivolity which turned More Cow Bell into something loved enough to gets its own T-shirt. His attention to the whole is seemingly instinctive, his care over detail is on a par with CERN's, and he has an ear and an eye unmatched by anyone else I can think of working in studio-based television. Take the sketch above: two boards are wheeled on, a filter's applied and suddenly we're in a movie - that's your joke, that's Love, that's Art. Seriously. Or when he plays Neil Young singing the them tune to "Fresh Prince" and is absolutely in it, it's the shadow cast by the hat over his eyes that means someone somewhere involved in this is a meticulous genius...

Or Steve Martin punching Death in the face, here...

Or the decision not to prerecord these twenties inserts, here...

Or everything about this even though I've no idea who Michael McDonald is...

I'm reminded of The Muppet Show, but with better jokes, or what Adam Buxton might make if he was given his own talk show, or indeed anything. Have you half an hour still spare? Join me.

Excellent idea.

 "Who's on first?" extended edition. Excellent idea.

 PeeWee Herman's "Dark Knight Rises". Excellent idea.

Spoofing this. Foolhardy, but an excellent idea.

Naming guys. Excellent idea.

Not raising interest rates on student loans. Excellent idea. And if Jeffrey Tambor, formerly of "Larry Sanders", happens to be a guest on your show, well this idea is...

Also excellent. To say nothing of "Let Us Play With Your Look", "At the bar with Roger Federer", Real Stars of "Guess Who?", "Mom Dancing with Michelle Obama", "Rap Histories", "True Facts of Truth", "Real People, Fake Arms" basically I've watched the whole damn channel.
I love him.