Two Highly Polished Videos

Yesterday Clicky dropped in a little 2-minute video featuring Chris Snowdon:

It was a highly polished little video. But that’s perhaps only to be expected from the BBC’s Newsnight.

I imagine that Chris wrote the text that he was speaking, and the BBC shot the video and added the special effects. I wondered how long it took how many people to make it. And I wondered what impact it had. The Twitter feed above reported 28K views, 28,000 people.

I’ve been doing a few videos this year. But none of them have been anywhere near as polished as this little jewel. I don’t do Polished. Nothing I ever do is Polished. This blog never gets Polished. I write it like cutting off a slab of steak. Sometimes the slabs are too thick, sometimes too thin. I never spend much time trimming the slabs. I just look them over to make sure there aren’t too many typos stuck to them like bits of fat or gristle. And then I publish them. It’s the same with the videos.

I think that maybe the more polished something is, the less authentic. Real life is seldom very polished. Nobody’s got time to do any polishing. Because polishing takes time. Polished products are calculated products. And the calculation substracts from immediate, unvarnished, authentic simplicity.

Authenticity maybe comes when something unexpected intrudes. Somebody’s talking in a video, and a dog starts barking. And they tell the dog to stop barking, but it just barks louder. Authenticity is when a cat walks into view. Or a baby cries. Or a drink gets spilled. Or microphones get distorted. Or feedback creeps in. Polished is when those kinds of things don’t happen. When there are no mistakes.

And watching Chris Snowdon’s video, although I found nothing to disagree with in it, I wondered a bit at terms like “coercive paternalism”. What is coercive paternalism? Paternalism sounds rather benign and cuddly and fatherly. So coercive paternalism sounds like it could be Dad pounding on the door telling you to turn down the music. And is there a coercive maternalism that goes with the coercive paternalism? That’s Mom pounding on the door instead of Pop. Why not just call them “bullies”?

And what’s a “moral entrepreneur”. An entrepreneur is a go-between. All trade is entrepreneurial in nature. So is a moral entrepreneur somebody who sails into port with a cargo of newly-minted morals? And “entrepreneur” sounds almost as benign as the paternalist. He may have something useful to sell you. You might end up with an Afghan rug. Is Deborah Arnott a moral entrepreneur? Is she moral?

I rather jumped the track at one point in the video, after Chris listed banned or restricted products, and asked a question:

“Fast food. Fixed odds betting terminals. Cheap alcohol. Cigarettes. Sugary drinks. What do they all have in common?”

And the answer that sprang to my mind was that they’re things that people enjoy. And the killjoys, of course, are just people who want to kill off such little joys. But Chris Snowdon had a different answer to the question:

“They’re all more popular with ordinary working people than they are with the wealthy. The current public health crusade is just the latest in a long line of attempts by middle class killjoys to impose their tastes on the masses.”

And that’s not what I had in mind. His answer could well have been straight out of Socialism 101: the toiling workers were being oppressed by the idle rich. Is that really what’s happening? Is it all just class warfare of a sort that Marx would have recognised instantly? Is Deborah Arnott one of the idle rich? I suppose that on £160,000 a year she probably is quite rich. But she’s far from idle: she’s a thorough-going busybody. Does she drive a fast car? Does she wear Gucci and Armani clothes? Does she spend all day in a hairdresser? Does she lounge on beaches in the Caribbean? As far as I can see, she does none of those things. She’s a puritan. What’s the point in being a rich puritan, if you’re never going to allow yourself to eat the strawberries and cream your money could buy you?

No, sorry, I don’t think I’m being oppressed by the rich. And I’m not sure if I’m an ordinary working person either. It’s been years since I last did anything that I could honestly say was paid work.

But maybe Chris Snowdon is right, and I just haven’t spotted the oppression by the rich yet.

Another, rather less polished video that I saw yesterday. Shot in NYC, it featured one more or less completely unknown guitarist talking to another, very famous (and very rich) guitarist: Keith Richards.

In the preamble the unknown guitarist declares that he’s “freaking out bad” at the prospect of the encounter.

But then, at 1 minute and 10 seconds into the interview, Keith Richards lights up a cigarette.

And then at 2 minutes and 45 seconds in, Keith Richards lights a second cigarette (I guess that means that he can smoke a cigarette in about a minute and a half – but what else would you expect from a rock legend?) and also lights a cigarette for the unknown guitarist interviewing him.

And at that point, you can almost see how they both relax and start enjoying each others’ company.  They’ve become good buddies in less than 3 minutes.

Before the interview started, it seems that unknown guitarist was told that Keith Richards wouldn’t be playing any guitar. But pretty soon he was strumming away on acoustic guitars. And together they even ripped the sixth string off the unknown guitarist’s guitar, in order for Keith to demonstrate 5-string guitar, and recount how he’d shown Ike Turner how it was done.

It didn’t seem like it was a highly polished video. There were no special effects. But maybe it was so polished that I couldn’t see the joins in a very highly edited piece of film. Maybe Keith Richards’ didn’t really smoke that first cigarette in less than 2 minutes?

There’s a second video of these two talking as well.


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20 Responses to Two Highly Polished Videos

  1. nisakiman says:

    I saw Chris Snowdon’s video on a Twitter link yesterday, and my reaction to those things you point out was exactly the same as yours, even to the extent that I’d already filled in in my mind ‘things people enjoy’ before he said about ‘working people’. And in that I think he was missing the point entirely. The relationship to people’s social status is peripheral and unimportant. What binds those banned or restricted products is, as you say, the enjoyment factor.

    The video with Kieth Richards is a good one and I enjoyed watching it. I’ve always liked ‘Our Keef’ for his unashamed hedonism and contempt for stupidities like smoking bans. Because I bet nobody else smokes in that studio where the interview took place. It’s almost certain that, as a work area, smoking has been banned. I Haven’t checked out the second link yet, but I doubtless will later.

    • Joe L. says:

      The relationship to people’s social status is peripheral and unimportant.

      Agreed. Also, bear in mind this bogus idea that these “unhealthy lifestyle habits” are endemic to the lower classes, the poor and the uneducated, is a lie that has been propagated by Tobacco Control themselves. It’s just another tactic to widen the divide and create more self-righteous Antismokers.

  2. Rose says:

    But maybe Chris Snowdon is right, and I just haven’t spotted the oppression by the rich yet

    I can’t imagine how you haven’t spotted it, Frank

    ‘I’m going straight to heaven… it’s not even close’: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg boasts that his liberal philanthropy has guaranteed him a place in paradise

    “Michael Bloomberg has no doubts about where he’s headed when he shuffles off this mortal coil – straight to heaven, according to the former mayor.
    In an interview, published on Tuesday in the New York Times, the billionaire quipped that his liberal philanthropy – including his latest plan to drop $50million battling the NRA on gun control – should guarantee him a seat in the afterlife.

    Bloomberg said: ‘I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.’

    They are buying their way into heaven as well as ofsetting tax with charitable donations. Coercive paternalism is what they believe themselves to be funding. They obviously know better than you because they have made lots of money and you clearly have not, if the taxes bother you..

    • Frank Davis says:

      Bloomberg is just one rich man among quite a few. They’re not all the same. I don’t think Donald Trump, who is also a very rich man, wants to coerce smokers.

      • Rose says:

        Here’s another couple then.

        “Country leaders who are trying to protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco should not be deterred by threats of costly legal challenges from huge tobacco companies,” said Bill Gates. “Australia won its first case, which sends a strong message. But smaller, developing countries don’t have the same resources. That’s why we are supporting the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund with Bloomberg Philanthropies.”

        “ONE of Australia’s richest people is secretly preparing legal action to sue “big tobacco” for potentially billions of dollars on behalf of smokers as part of an unprecedented “assault” on the industry.
        Philanthropist and iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, whose charity organisation Minderoo Foundation was behind the introduction of the cashless welfare debit card in Aboriginal communities, is privately seeking legal advice from some of Australia’s most expensive QCs.

        It’s understood the court action would be based on a landmark Canadian suit, where a judge ordered three tobacco companies to pay $15.6 billion in damages to more than one million smokers.
        The Saturday Telegraph can reveal the plan was recently alluded to in a COAG presentation by Mr Forrest to Australia’s health ministers.”

        Smoking age would be raised to 21 under Andrew Forrest’s new anti-cancer plan
        “Australians would be prohibited from buying cigarettes until age 21 under a new cancer-fighting plan developed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest.

        Mr Forrest and his wife Nicola are spearheading a major lobbying campaign to convince federal and state governments to raise the legal tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21 – a move they say would stop young people getting hooked, save lives and save government coffers up to $3.1 billion a year.”
        http: //

        When you have so much money that you don’t know what to do with it, you do “good works”

        • Frank Davis says:

          When you have so much money that you don’t know what to do with it, you do “good works”

          And who comes asking for a cut of that excess money? And what do they propose to spend it on? Tobacco Control comes knocking on Bill Gates’ and Michael Bloomberg’s doors. And they tell them that they could “save millions of lives”.

          Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg probably have no idea what “good works” might be, because they’ve never done any. They spent their lives making their fortunes. Other people have to tell them where to now spend those fortunes, and on what “good works.”

          Probably some shyster in Tobacco Control told Michael Bloomberg that he’d be going straight to heaven, after he’d promised X million dollars. And Michael Bloomberg believed him.

          It’s probably the same with buying art. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg probably have no idea what’s good art and what’s bad. Why should they? They spent their lives making their fortunes, not studying art. But other people will soon tell them what to buy and what not to the art market. And they’ll probably be very persuasive in directing them towards “good works of art”.

        • Rose says:

          Doing good works is usually a wonderful thing, but sometimes doing “good works” by funding a newly fashionable medical theory based on dubious “science” can go terribly wrong and cause enormous harm.

          “Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America’s most respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics’ racist aims.”

    • Lepercolonist says:

      Michael Bloomberg is going straight to hell for all the misery he has brought down on smokers. He reminds me of the wealthy people in the middle ages who bought a ticket to heaven from the Roman Catholic Church by purchasing indulgences. Just ask Martin Luther.

  3. John Watson says:

    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24) well I guess he’ll have to rethink his eternal resting place won’t he?

  4. Smoking Lamp says:

    I am glad to see Keith still smoking he has been a hero of mine since the 60s! Raw and real beats polished any day. I do notice that the antis in the media are suppressing comments at a higher rate these days–or so it seems. I’ve had more comments removed in the past few days since then news of Austria seeking to lift its ban. Interestingly, they remove the pro-choice comments and then restrict all comments. It is becoming pretty clear that the antismoking hysteria is orchestrated by a few powerful interests.

  5. Roobeedoo2 says:

    I understand what you’re saying about the Snowdon clip being highly polished, Frank, but I also think you’re being a little unfair in making the comparison with the Keith Richard’s interview. It’s like comparing apples and bananas – both are fruit, like both are videos – I don’t think you’re taking into account the audiences, the subject matters or the mediums on which they will viewed and shared.

    The Snowdon video is 2 minutes long and he has to make the case within those two minutes. I think he does it well and quite forcefully. With regards to class he’s got a point – he states from the outset that smokers are treated as second-class citizens. There’s no denying that we are.

    I’ve mentioned before The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe. According to them we’re in a fourth/winter/crisis turning right now. Looking back at that previous fourth turnings in history, highlighted in the book, this is exactly the time that the puritan, temperance and, dare I say, Nazi, movements approach their zenith in influencing both politics and public opinion. The good news is that I think they’ve reached their high water mark and are now starting to ebb. I think both Brexit and the Trump’s election are evidence of this.

    And I enjoyed the Keith Richard’s interviews too.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I wasn’t really comparing them. They were just two rather thought-provoking videos, and both rather slickly produced.

    • waltc says:

      Well, fwiw, I agree with Roobeedoo in that I think you’re too harsh on the Snowdon clip.

      Verbally first: “paternalism” as a word is commonly seen as negative because it’s applied to adults– it’s government treating adult citizens like children with a “father knows best” patronization. Add “coerciveness” and it’s government no longer giving fatherly advice but withholding your allowance, taking away the car keys and whipping your butt. And “moral entrepreneurs” are selling you their particular brand of morals, though I agree that the term is a bit highfalutin but otoh could reach those very entrepreneurs in the BBC audience.

      My first jump, too, was to “pleasure” rather than class but because we all jumped to it, I think it may have been tacit so the limited time was used to make Snowdon’s larger point: that it’s a kind of class warfare, though the dominant class in question– the one that also sets the middle-class values– is the dreaded class of Experts, Bureaucrats and Pols. I’d also note that he talks about middle-class values rather than the values of the wealthy elites. But remember that the guys like Bloomberg and Gates are just middle-class guys who happened to make billions and then let it go to their heads. (Nothing in their heads about Noblesse Oblige.)

      Further, in terms of commercial production, there are rigorous demands of writing to time, and additionally the rule about not bombarding your viewers with too many trains of thought so that none are remembered.

      Visually, IMO, the only over-slick (and slightly distracting) parts were the abrupt cuts to profile, which also functioned to detract from the immediacy. In a few instances, they did it to make room to add other elements to the frame, but I think it could have been handled better with other camera angles. But in sum, for its purpose as well as its platform, it needed to look professional rather than candid camera.

      I have a vague uncomfortable feeling that I just came off sounding like a creepy pedantic jerk, but I once used to put such commercials together so I know how they work.

  6. smokingscot says:

    Re the Keith Richards interview, it’s remarkable how well Johnny Depp manages to mimic him in the Pirate series (something he admits). Keith always seems drunk as a lord and Johnny copies the whole shebang, hand gestures and all.

    I see Keith’ll be 74 on 18 Dec and he can still cross one leg behind the other; amazingly flexible.

    They estimate the guy’s worth $380 million – and doubtless he’ll do the right thing by wife and daughters.

    Bloomberg’ll be 76 in February and stands proudly looking up to his daughters.

    Astonishing the squirt’s worth $50.3 billion.

  7. Joe jackson says:

    I think there’s some misunderstanding going on here about what Snowdon is saying. Firstly ‘coercive paternalism’ simply means that the paternalistic mindset of ‘we decide what’s good for you’ is carried through into policies of coercion like bans, restrictions, fines, and high taxes – the classic example of coercive paternalism being the smoking ban, which Snowdon hates.

    As for the ‘class’ element, I think it’s undeniable that ‘public health’ particularly targets the pleasures of ordinary working people. Even if you can’t exactly define it as a question of ‘class’ in the traditional British social-order sense, there is no doubt in my mind that there’s a huge amount of snobbery involved in antismoking, anti-drinking, etc. The way you get to be a ‘superior class of person’ these days is not necessarily by being from a ‘better family’ or having money, but by being ‘healthy’, fit, slim, somewhat puritanical, and making all the ‘right lifestyle choices’ – thereby feeling superior to ‘the oiks’, who don’t know what’s good for them (and shouldn’t be trusted with too much freedom or autonomy).

    Mike Bloomberg has been rightly mentioned in the comments here, as he is a blazing example of both a coercive paternalist and a snob (the two often go together). I could add that his (and others’) war on sweet / fizzy drinks always targets Coke etc and not ‘healthy’ smoothies that often have even more calories. And when he passed a law in NYC that restaurants had to display notices of the calorie content of their offerings, it was only forced on fast-food joints and chains, not for instance on fancy French restaurants which use lashings of butter, sugar, salt etc. Also significantly, the handful of bars exempted from the NY smoking ban are all posh and pricey Cigar Lounges, not working-class neighbourhood pubs (many of which just went out of business, about which Bloomberg does not give a shit).

    I don’t think Snowdon is talking about Class Oppression in Marxist terms or something; but I think he’s right that snobbery and a ‘we’re a better class of person than you lot’ attitude, are big driving forces in the empowerment of ‘public health’.

    • Lepercolonist says:

      Keith Richards at 1:55 has the 1st cigarette in the frame. He then drops his right arm. His right hand without the cigarette reappears at 2:08. The ashtray is on his left side but you never see him leaning over to extinguish it.

      There is a rapid cut-shot to the other guitarist at 1:55. That is where they edited it.

    • Lepercolonist says:

      Smoking, drinking, never thinking of tomorrow, nonchalant
      Diamonds shining, dancing, dining with some man in a restaurant
      Is that all you really want?
      No, sophisticated lady
      I know, you miss the love you lost long ago
      And when nobody is nigh you cry

      Joe, you nailed it with: The Duke. Priceless arrangement.

    • Mark Jarratt, Norwood, Sri Lanka says:

      Well expressed. Fully agree. Public health collectivism isn’t class based in the traditional Peers sense, but in moralistic nanny state elitism.

  8. Pingback: Fighting The Wrong Enemy | Frank Davis

  9. To say that it’s a war on pleasure is true but doesn’t tell the whole story. There is not a war on drinking, per se, but a war on cheap alcohol, ie. that which is not drunk by the ruling elite. There is not a war on gambling, there is a war on casino games being played by working people in bookies – there is not, you will note, a war on casino games being played in casinos. There has been a war on smoking for the last 50 years but it has become much more forceful since smoking became a disproportionately working class pursuit. And so on.

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