Thursday, 15 July 2010

Actually, your opinion probably is worthless.

We've come to that time of the year again. The one where old favourites are ending, and glorious newcomers are just starting their runs. Yes, I am naturally talking about television. There's something to be said for television of the past. While it may not have had the twitter-helped IT Crowd, or the glory of eighties nostalgia like Ashes to Ashes, it did have a distinct lack of amateur Internet criticism. This is perhaps the most cardinal sin of the modern television experience. Our hubris in these situations is remonstrably awful. It is a simple truth: Everything exists to be rubbished by someone on the 'net.
But what astounds me most is our willingness to claim we know better. Now, I must point out here that I'm using 'we' in the sense of society. I don't attest to Internet rubbishing. I find it to be much akin to doing porn: I'm sure it might but fun, but no one wants to see the finished product unless you actually have something to offer. Our most recent show of hubris though seems to be our belief that it is within the bounds of fair criticism to start talking about what we think should have happened. Don't get me wrong. I think the Internet is a wonderful new media tool that needs to carefully scrutinised for the myriad possibilities it opens up in the realm of producer-viewer relations, but I don't think for a minute we've reached that glorious position where anything proceeded by the words 'I think it would have been better if..." has anything but the sound of a petulant child crying because he wanted 100 chocolate chips exactly in his already over sized and quite delicious biscuit, not 98. This is sheer fanwankery and is about as helpful as standing outside a movie theater saying to anyone who goes in not to see a film because "I really enjoyed it, but it needed one more scene where X tells Y about Z, which I'm sure would have been fantastic because A is a fantastic writer." I'm sure it would have. Unless, however, Z happens to be utterly vital to the plot, to understanding the plot, to the very nature of the piece being at all "good", then it is the height of subjective criticism. One cannot criticise could-have-beens and praise the never-was' because they are exactly what they say on the tin - not what happened. The only time this stuff belongs in a review is when it is a clear omission of something vital. There is no logic to starting a bad review with "I really enjoyed this" and then basing your argument around stuff that doesn't exist.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Coromandel? No, Mine Yorkshire instead.

Why bother mining New Zealand? Surely Yorkshire must be up for sale. Imagine it, a patch of New Zealand on the other side of the world, free to mine in at our leisure. Its not like Yorkshire has produced anything of value recently. I'm pretty sure the cloth caps are made in China (and the whippets bred in Wales). The point is, Yorkshire is a terrible place and I'm sure David Cameron will sell it to our homeboy, John Key, for a reasonable sum.

The point to all this is, of course, to do with me being a miserable bastard. I am not always, it might surprise you to know, a miserable bastard. Generally, being a miserable bastard comes with that ultimate demon: fresh air and exercise. Don't get me wrong. I love a good walk. I walk every day (when I'm at Uni) through the Auckland CBD for a good 20 minutes, and that more than fills my quota. I'm refreshed, energised, and not left feeling like I've just been put through a medieval torture chamber with Stalin as my host. Three hours of walking I can also tolerate. I've walked across London (Tower to Oxford Street is no picnic, I tell you) and all with a whimsical smile. So why, I wonder, did walking up Pen-y-ghent make me want to murder the first infant I saw? One of the famous 'three peaks' of Yorkshire, Pen-y, as her friends call her, is just shy of 700 meters high. Or, so a badge in the nearby cafe told me. Might have been miles. It felt like miles. The point is, the thing is tall. Tall enough for me to want to give up all the way. Its about 3 miles from the start of the track to the top of the mountain (I believe this may, however, be purely a to b to c distancing). Ultimately, it boils down to the obvious thing, doesn't it: Don't I feel accomplished? Don't I feel like I've done something with my life for three hours, scaling heights and doing superhuman feats of daring? Wasn't the view spectacular?

To put it bluntly, no. No, I do not feel special. I feel tired. My coat is wet. The view was bleak and depressing. I was like Janet from Rocky Horror: It was wet, it was cold, and with the speed of the wind, I was just plain scared. This, of course, is in the Yorkshire Dales. This is what Yorkshire is known for. Frankly, it can keep its Dales. It can keep its three peaks. It can keep the eeiry sense of foreboding the really quite tiny windows on its farmhouses gives me. But, I still think we should buy it. Nothing says revenge for a miserable day like strip-mining.