Sunday, 7 November 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #626: Thank You Jimmy McGovern, You Just Proved My Point

Welcome to the show folks...

Jimmy McGovern is a British writer from Liverpool who is responsible for the original British version of
Cracker starring Robbie Coltrane, which was one of the best crime dramas in the history of TV.

It also looks like he is so full of shit I'm surprised it's not leaking out his ears.

I owe a tip of my jaunty fedora to Matthew @MonasticProds whose spleen venting tweets alerted me to Mr. McGovern's very public bout of foot-in-mouth-head-in-ass syndrome.

For those too lazy to click the link Mr. McGovern
decided to piss away decades of goodwill from writers all over the world by taking some column inches in the Observer to declare that anyone who doesn't write exactly like him is not worthy of being television drama because it "doesn't matter."

If McGovern ruled the world all television drama would be strictly of the social realist school and only be about telling the world just how shitty life is in cities like Liverpool and how it's all Margaret Thatcher's fault. There would be no fantasy, science-fiction, or imagination of any kind beyond figuring out what sort of grim urban despair and/or depravity you can heap upon your downtrodden characters.

Anyone who doesn't do what McGovern does, exactly the way McGovern does it, is "irrelevant" and "not serious" in the eyes of Mr. McGovern.

Really Jimmy?

Were you drinking or smoking something you shouldn't have when you made those statements?

Because I can't see any writer "serious" or "relevant" writer making that kind of statement without goose-stepping while they're talking.

Sure 90% of TV is crap that's not worth the tape it's recorded on.

But here's a little factoid that I'm pretty sure Mr. McGovern doesn't know, because if he did, he wouldn't be talking out of his ass like that.

90% of all creative endeavors are crap.

Even the sort of "relevant" social-realist-kitchen-sink-
it's-bloody-grim-up-north-type dramas that Mr. McGovern seems to think are uber-alles are 90% crap. They can easily slip into tedious preaching that is more about reinforcing the writer's own already bloated sense of self-importance and worthiness than making any lasting socio-political point that connects emotionally and intellectually with the audience.

One can't contain the whole of the human experience, imagination, and the other things that "matter" within the narrow confines of a single style or sub-genre. Think of creativity as an orchestra made up of thousands of people, each playing their own instrument, or playing no instrument at all, just their own personal voices. The players are the creators, and their instruments are their genres of choice, and the music they create are the stories they tell.

They all have their role to play in the great cacophonous, and occasionally discordant, symphony of creativity. Each section, or even individual players, can be listened to or ignored depending on the personal tastes of the members of the audience. No one has the right to condemn an entire section of the orchestra to the dustbin of history simply because they don't think their instruments are worthy of being played.

If you don't like that section, go play your own tune, on your own instrument, on your own time, to your own audience. To demand that others must fit into some narrow and utterly subjective definition of worthiness, created by you, is to declare yourself the enemy not just of creativity, but of free expression.

Of course, this self-righteous, patronizing priggishness on the part of Mr. McGovern may all be just staged to generate publicity for his new BBC legal/crime drama
Accused. If true, then he is as destructively narcissistic and fame-whoring as any reality-TV skank. Which makes this whole incident shameful no matter how you look at it.

Which brings me to my other point....

Shortly after Halloween I wrote a piece about how making a horror film should be mandatory for all new filmmakers whether they have any interest in the genre or not. One of the reasons I gave is that it teaches the filmmaker in question humility. McGovern's work has been pretty much all in the one genre he does very well, and he's been rightfully praised for that work, but all that praise has apparently gone to his head. I think an early dose of doing work in an unfamiliar genre, that is guaranteed to get absolutely no mainstream critical praise or awards, no matter how well it's done, is a good learning experience for all who do it.

Because then you will have the humility to know that your importance does not spare you from putting your foot in it like a blind man following overfed elephants in a parade.

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