Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Too Much Sport Is Barely Enough: What Makes Roy And Hg Funny?

At the Sydney Olympics they wittily skewered the pretentiousness, national chauvinism and commercialism that mar this most global of sport spectacles. They even managed to cause consternation among the International and Australian Olympic Committees and their commercial sponsors by creating an absurd local fauna mascot, Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat , to rival the official trio of Millie (echidna), Olly (kookaburra), and Syd (platypus), the last of which they preferred to call Dickhead. An unlikely symbol of spontaneous popular Olympic resistance to bureaucratic and commercial authority, Fatso made guerrilla on-camera appearances, including at some medal ceremonies with successful Australian athletes. Fatso embodied Roy and HGs comic technique of playing with the visual grammar and language of sport, rendering super-slow motion replays of live action in absurdist ways, and attaching curious folk labels, such as the battered sav and Chiko roll, to arcane gymnastic manoeuvres. In alternative live calls of games such as rugby leagues State of Origin during their self-inaugurated Festival of the Boot, Roy and HG also invent nicknames for players, the most renowned of which is The Brick with Eyes for the now-federal Senator-elect Glenn Lazarus. Repetition and circulation of nicknames for players (like Backdoor Benny) and for some of their practices (such as the squirrel grip to describe the practice of manhandling the genitals of opponents) provide an alternative framing of sport, substituting whimsy and wild extrapolation for the deadly earnestness of sports commentary. And when stuck for a gag, Roy and HG can always resort to making fun of neighbouring New Zealand. From The Dream with Roy and HG, 2000 Olympics. The vehicles for the performance of these feats are the stock characters that they inhabit. Roy is the know-it-all ex-sportsman prone to mythologise and re-invent his heroic past. HG is the combustible commentator always on the point of exploding into another barely comprehensible rant. These archetypes are recognisable to anyone even mildly acquainted with the Australian sports media. But they also raise the question of whether Roy and HGs humour only really works for the initiated: the people who understand and embrace the sport that is being parodied for comic effect. And yet, to laugh at and with Roy and HG it is not necessary to know or to love sport, although sometimes it helps. Roy and HGs sport-related comedy works in two main ways and plays to rather different galleries. In their coverage of the most popular sports, they are making the familiar strange and exposing its inherent silliness.
For the original version visit http://theconversation.com/too-much-sport-is-barely-enough-what-makes-roy-and-hg-funny-23311

Monday, February 17, 2014

filtering Through Celebrity Gossip Lies And Truth

Everyday new celebrity gossip stories hit the front pages of the entertainment sites but how does one separate the truth from fiction? Of the popular news media outlets some of the more established like People Magazine, tend to be more reliable sources, confirming stories as much as possible before publishing. This tends to make these outlets trusted sources but at the same time often slow to come out with controversial news that's harder to confirm and that might cause backlash. After all if a story reflects poorly on a celebrity, they and their reps are not likely to confirm and may in fact blatantly deny until totally cornered. They may also be reluctant to co-operate with that media outlet in the future.

There are also many media outlets that are more daring and will go forward with publishing a story pretty readily if they believe it's based on truth, even if the gossip is based on circumstantial evidence. These types of stories require the most detective work to weigh the validity of the story. New couple alerts are a good example. Celebrities are often spotted 'looking cozy' together all the time. Sometimes these types of stories have some supporting photo evidence, other times it's based on hearsay third party witnesses. Many times these stories are just planted by reps. and the celebrities themselves for publicity purposes. Jennifer Aniston is forever being linked to every leading man she works with, especially since her splitting from Brad Pitt. Fans want to see Jen find love again and tabloids are anxious to deliver to sell magazines. Two thirds of those stories or more are false of course. When Jen was initially linked with John Mayer, frankly I was skeptical. The funny/sad thing was, when Jen broke up with Mayer, she was immediately linked with another hot new guy. This rumor which should have made anyone highly skeptical soon proved to be false but that's the nature of this business. Without going into a whole manifesto here, another type of story example that's usually hard to get confirmation on is celebrities stricken with health issues. It was 'The National Enquirer' that broke the news on the Patrick Swayze cancer story, which was confirmed by his rep. after the actor was 'outed'. Meanwhile stories like, Paul Newman's alleged battle with cancer has never been officially confirmed.
Many gossip news outlets fall into a third category. Seemingly under the gun to crank out new articles,they throw in a few 'trash gossip' stories in the mix of each publication. Most of these fiction based stories are not malicous, and based on some shred of truth, that I call 'progression stories'. A celebrity dating the same person for a while, is reported to be, breaking up, cheating or planning their wedding. A celebrity known to drink, is going to rehab. A celebrity is photographed with a new ring, there engaged. A couple weeks before Jennifer Aniston split up with John Mayer she appeared on two magazine covers on the same week. One reporting she was planning her wedding, the second saying she was already making plans to have a baby.

My biggest pet peeves in the truth and lies game is twofold:

Media outlets and websites that deliberately publish malicious 'false stories' for the sake of publicity. Many of these stories capitalizing on celebrities misfortunes and are attention grabbing but often based on nothing more then conjecture or just imagination. A recent trash story, that had my blood boiling, claimed that Christina Applegate was going to put off treatment for breast cancer so she could have a baby! The tabloid picked up on the fact that: 'Christina told an interviewer that she didn't want to wait until her mid-forties to have a baby, and that her biological clock was ticking.'We learned 5 days later that Christina Applegate had already had a double mastectomy performed to remove the cancer.

Likewise media outlets that turn their back on certain types of stories because they don't want to get their hands dirty or offend their audience. Recently the NY Post's famous Page Six published under their 'blind items':
'Which hunk in a summer movie is a violent, closeted homosexual? The heartthrob snuck into his ex's apartment a few months ago and raped him so violently, the ex ended up in the hospital - and the actor paid him $500,000 to keep his mouth shut.'
Well I guess you can see why they might be a bit reluctant to name, names. It's not unusual for one of these blind items, which are posted frequently to eventually be reported with names by more daring publishers.