15 October 2010

Social realism (part 2)

Ken Loach's Guardian article "It's time to rescue film" illustrates better than anything I could write the unbridgeable gulf between socialists and thinking human beings.
Over a seven-year period, the US market share of box-office takings in British cinemas was between 63% and 80%. The UK share, which was mainly for American co-productions, was between 15% and 30%; films from Europe and the rest of the world took only 2% to 3%. So for most people it's almost impossible to have a choice of films; you get what you're given.
No, you get what you are prepared to pay for. Cinema outlets are not in the business of losing money, so they do not screen subsidised British and European films made by people like Loach, be they ever so "meaningful", because nobody wants to watch them.
How can we change this? We could start by treating cinemas like we treat theatres. They could be owned, as they are in many cases, by the municipalities, and programmed by people who care about films – the London Film Festival, for example, is full of people who care about films.
Umm, isn't that just the teensiest bit - dare I say it - elitist? The West End theatres would also appear not to conform to Loach's vision, and it was unwise of him to use the word "programmed" in this context.

There follows a rant about how the BBC has not done enough to advance the careers of people like Loach. 
To think that our television is in the hands of these time-servers is nothing less than a tragedy. Because television began with such high hopes, it was going to be the National Theatre of the air. It was going to really be a place where society could have a national discourse and they've reduced it to a grotesque reality game. This should not be used to denigrate the idea of public service broadcasting. The commercial sector is probably worse.
Don't you love the last sentence? He is proud to know nothing about the "commercial sector". The last paragraph, from one whose entire career has depended on the leftie arts establishment, is beyond satire.
Those of us who work in television and film have a role to be critical, to be challenging, to be rude, to be disturbing, not to be part of the establishment. We need to keep our independence. We need to be mischievous. We need to be challenging. We shouldn't take no for an answer. If we aren't there as the court jester or as the people with the questions they don't want asked who will be?

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