Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cohen on Film

One for the obsessives among you, I'm afraid.

You want to watch Nick Cohen? You can for all of 15 seconds of fame (from 5:01 to 5:15).

I found this because I wanted to know when I could find 'Standpoint' in Smith's. There's an interview (all of four questions, the answers to which look suspiciously like a press release) with the editor Daniel Johnson on a blog-like site called New Culture Forum. Over to Daniel:

Standpoint will cover the waterfront in politics and culture - everything except the debased celebrity and lifestyle culture that most other magazines are obsessed with. In our first issue, for example, we have new art by David Hockney, Ian Bostridge on Bach, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Alain de Botton on faith, Jung Chang and Simon Sebag Montefiore on Mao and Stalin, new poetry by Robert Conquest, [... blah blah blah] plus Nick Cohen, Minette Marrin, Peter Whittle and many other writers and critics. We even have Dominic Lawson on chess and the world's first Scrabulous column.


New Culture Forum's sidebar contains this entry:

Director Peter Whittle hosted over forty editions of Culture Clash, a half hour cultural discussion programme, which ran for a year on the UK's first internet TV site, 18 Doughty Street.


The above video covers the launch of Peter Whittle's new book, "Look at Me" so I think it's safe to assume that Peter Whittle is the owner and author who posts as 'admin'. "Look at Me" is a study of celebrity and lifestyle culture. Oh dear.

With the exception of Nick, who has loosened his tie to demonstrate that he's radical or something, everyone else in the film is achingly Tory. If Labour wants to hold Crewe and Nantwich they could just set up a few screens on a busy street and broadcast it in a loop under the legend, "Do you want these people running the country?" It has to be a better tactic than suggesting that the Tory candidate "oppose[s] making foreign nationals carry an ID card?"

Sorry about the title: it should of course be 'Cohen on Video' but where would we be without cultural references? Or in this case, Duran Duran.

9 Comments:

Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Please, no personal comments regarding our Nick. I'll delete them.

5/17/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be fair, that 'blah' did have Marr in it.

The list itself conjures up a marvellous image of the All-Star Reactionary Rolling Revue... "On the spoons, the Queen of Mean . . . Mad Mel!" etc.

And what's Conquest's poetry going to be about?

"There once was a man from the MOD
Who asked me to condemn his enemy
I did so for pay
And so to this day
My innumeracy's unremedied"

Chris Williams

5/17/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh indeed Chris. I was going to leave the Marr bit in. But the stuff before Marr was all "been there, seen that". Besides, I've met Andrew Marr (and liked him) and I think Matt is a very good cartoonist.

Also, I thought Conquest was dead. Besides, I don't care for any congruence between poetry and politics. I think Shelley's stanza "Rise like lions from the slumber/In unvanquishable number/Shake your chains to earth like dew/Ye are many, they are few." inspired Marx, but then I remember that I can't stand Marx. I love the god-bothering, jew-baiting Eliot though. Art for art's sake; money for god's sake. If that's not a song, it should be. I also like Auden who went from trendy revolutionary to trendy reactionary after arrival in America.

If readers are not careful, I'll start to quote.

5/17/2008 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

If that's not a song

It is, but not a very good one.

I doubt the term "trendy" existed when Auden was writing in either of those modes.

I also doubt that Shelley inspired Marx. Marx liked Shelley, but that's not the same thing: it's hard to see him as an influence.

Dominic Lawson. An incredibly unpleasant man, but that's not unusual among chessplayers. But some of the Telegraph set in that article really are a very long way to the Right indeed.

5/17/2008 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

everything except the debased celebrity and lifestyle culture that most other magazines are obsessed with.

I'm fairly sure that the demographics of Heat and this new one don't exactly overlap. But in any case 'Standpoint' is guilty of, for me, an even worse approach to contributors and topics. Viz:

new art by David Hockney, Ian Bostridge on Bach, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Alain de Botton on faith, Jung Chang and Simon Sebag Montefiore on Mao and Stalin

Hockney is hardly cutting-edge and is the kind of artist that the man on the clapham omnibus has heard of and thinks is alright, since his pictures look like the things they're supposed to. Alain de Botton is as much a celeb as a 'philosopher', isn't he? and Chang on Mao? wow, way to get your contributors out of their comfort zones. This is little different from Esquire getting 'big intellectual hitters' (for which read: novelists our readers have probably heard of) to write lazy lifestyle features.

And I wonder how Sebag Montefiore is going to:

defend and celebrate Western civilisation.

Is it only me who finds this 'the West is best' stuff really boorish? Surely if you are as intellectually curious as the imaginary Standpoint reader, you will probably not be so rigid in either defence or celebration of Western civilisation. How does Stalin fit into this 'celebration'?

The fact that the press release mentions the Spectator about once every other sentence shows what the magazine is really for - to compensate for the celeb/lifestyle nature of the revamped Spectator, and it also mentions Prospect an awful lot, which almost certainly means that this new rag sees itself as 'the right-wing Prospect' (though whenever I've read Prospect I've found it preaching to the 'centrist' new labour party line pretty consistently).

Standpoint is most definitely a Tory publication. And Nick is on board. What's left indeedzzzzzz

5/18/2008 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's possible that Cohen is on board as the token leftie who will actually spend all their time throwing bricks at a straw-man left, a rule previously played in a number of publications by the Brighton Blight.

5/18/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's possible that Cohen is on board as the token leftie who will actually spend all their time throwing bricks at a straw-man left, a rule previously played in a number of publications by the Brighton Blight.

Or as they said of Fox News: We get all the smart Republicans...and all the stupid Democrats.

[redpesto]

PS: Can someone please Watch Nick's attack on Bertolt Brecht, especially now he's seething with impotent rage in Seat E5:

However, the actors can't outperform the audience. They laughed and clapped as Brecht eviscerated the corruptions of the market economy and traditional morality, and managed to look knowing without appearing to know anything. "Don't they get it?" I thought as I watched them. "Don't they know what happened?"

5/18/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

So why did he go to the fucking play, if he knew he'dl hate it? He seems to spend his life looking for situations that are going to outrage him - it can't be healthy. And his "tone deafness" to theatre is quite extraordinary. Mother Courage does not embrace the cause of peace - that totally misses the point of the play, and Brecht was not Peter, Paul and Mary. His point was about what war is, what it does and who flourishes - the Iraq war is but one example.

One of the reasons I like Brecht is that he makes liberals so nervous. I heard a review of the same play on some Radio 4 arts show, and all four of the critics felt the need to distance themselves from the politics, and to sanitise the play (and presumably their real enjoyment of it), by pointing out that Communism is discredited, Stalin/Mao bad men, etc, etc.

Which is all very well, but thing about Brecht is that his plays are not propoganda for communism, but attacks on the world as it exists. It doesn't matter that he was an apologist for Russian communism, his plays aren't.

5/18/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Shorter Nick: "I went to see a play written by a Communist. People seemed to enjoy it. I was appalled."

I think it's quite significant that he doesn't actually make a case against the play. Once you concede that the play may be good in itself, the critique of Brecht's politics becomes more problematic and the critique of the audience for enjoying it(!) just looks silly. But arguing that The good person of Szechuan is a bad play would entail actual work. What he's doing here is the journalistic equivalent of picketing the theatre with placards and a megaphone ("You Do Know He's A Communist, Don't You?")

5/18/2008 10:35:00 PM  

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