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I was saying “Boo-urns”

April 27th, 2005

Life imitates Art, or at least The Simpsons, in this Guardian report, headlines Blair gets ‘boomed’ by pupils

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  1. Gaby
    April 27th, 2005 at 10:35 | #1

    John, apropos your previous discussion concerning the false dichotomy of “high art” and so called “popular culture”, I’d say “The Simpsons” clearly falls on the “art” line.

    Criteria for this judgment include its innovative nature, the naive drawing style (I’ll forego the diaeresis), the way the show appeals to adults and children and, most importantly, its satire, both blunt and subtle.

    By the way, I don’t think the problem is to specify exhaustive criteria to distinguish good and bad art. This is a forlorn task. There will be as many criteria as there are works. And the best criticism teases these out sensitively in response to the individual work rather than formulaicly. But I agree with you that criteria that rely on a notion of “high art” will not be adequate.

  2. April 27th, 2005 at 11:40 | #2

    Mayor Quimby for PM!

  3. William
    April 27th, 2005 at 13:19 | #3

    Quimby: “I run this town. You’re just a bunch of low-income nobodies”
    Aide: (whispers in his ear) “Election in November, election in November”
    Quimby: “What, again? This stupid country”

  4. April 27th, 2005 at 16:53 | #4

    blair has also been pulled up for stealing Labour’s ‘forward not backward’ slogan from the same source! see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1472149,00.html

    as a vaguely interesting aside, student unity (labor right on campuses) self-mockingly used the same slogan unabridged at the national union of students conference in december 2004.

  5. Peter
    April 27th, 2005 at 17:18 | #5

    BBC News last night reported the event, along with the Labour Party spin that the students were praising, not booing, Mr Blair. However, the BBC also noted that, judging from his pained expression, the PM interpreted the noise at the time as criticism, not praise.

    It is not the first time he has been dissed at a public event — most famously, several years ago he was booed by the Womens’ Institute, a gathering of blue-rinse matrons, and he had to end his speech.

    But this is now part of Labour’s election strategy here — Blair wants to look beleagured, being dissed by unreasonable people making personal attacks on him, in order to attract a sympathy vote. It was why he spent considerable TV time some weeks ago talking with studio audiences chosen for their hostility. It is why he is now claiming (at a speech down the road from me last night) that the Tories may win “by the back door” (to use his phrase). If they win, it is because they get the most MPs. Last time I checked, there was nothing back-door about that, although it is certainly unusual in the British Labour Party for the majority view to hold.

    He’s trying to scare traditional Labour voters into voting for him.

  6. April 28th, 2005 at 01:07 | #6

    At one point (when contemplating giving up a comedy career) Krusty the Klown starts quoting Housman. There’s art in there somewhere.

  7. April 28th, 2005 at 01:09 | #7

    BTW, when I saw that article, I had that exact same thought about the Simpsons. Great minds drink alike (see also here).

  8. April 28th, 2005 at 01:12 | #8

    Oops, I meant here.

  9. roberto
    April 28th, 2005 at 13:41 | #9

    Peter – Heaven forbid, a politician, a PM no less, subjecting himself to examination (on television) by people who are hostile to his policies!

    How can anyone turn that into some sort of PR spin.

  10. Peter
    April 28th, 2005 at 17:48 | #10

    Easy, Roberto.

    You show Tony Blair in a room with 30 hostile, loud, intemperate opponents, who never let him a finish a sentence, who keep asking him the same questions over and over, and who refuse him the common courtesy of applause at the end of the hour. Meanwhile, he never loses his cool.

    Immediate result: TB looks reasonable, and the victim of unreasonable opponents. Longer-term result (the Labour Party hopes): Swinging votes vote for TB and Labour, out of sympathy, or because they admire TB’s solidity.

    Why is this spin and not for real: Because TB does not change his views in any way, shape or form as a result of the interaction. He still does not apologize ot us for taking the country to war against its will, and on false information. He still does not provide a compelling argument for doing so (although one exists, and he sometimes alludes to it). He still repeats the same statements he has made in Parliament, on the hustings, and on previous such encounters: “I did what a man’s gotta do, so like it or lump it.” The purpose of the encounter is not to convince anyone (least of all the intelligent viewer or TB) to change their mind through rational argument. The purpose of the encounter is create sympathy for a beleagured TB.

    That’s why these encounters are spin and not genuine.

    Footnote: On the question of applause at the end of the encounter: TB has only himself to blame for this. In his televised speech to the British nation just before the country went to war in Iraq, he did not begin with the usual “Good Evening”, or “Ladies and Gentlemen”, or something like John Curtin’s opening: “Fellow Australians”. He had no salutation at all. He simply began speaking about the issue. IMO, this was immensely rude and disrespectful to us listeners, and is sadly indicative of his attitude to the public during this crisis all along.

  11. Peter
    April 29th, 2005 at 07:39 | #11

    And now, this evening, the British Government has finally released the A-G’s advice on the legality of the war (after it was leaked yesterday). What an equivocation it is! It turns out that the Cabinet had not been shown this advice. Tony Blair has tonight called it a “damp squib”, which is (as the Lib-Dem leader pointed out) an insult to all those killed in the war.

    The New Labour Government definitely seems to be on the run in this election campaign.

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