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.