Entertainment I Don’t Get That Other People Seem To Love

Media

The best piece of advice I was ever given was; ‘If 5 million people all love the same thing, you at least need to know about it and understand why’. The writer who stops caring what the mass of the public likes makes himself irrelevant.’ But these are the things I struggle with.

All books that have an amusing society in their title

Calling a book ‘The Ukranian Pie Hotel’ doesn’t make it quirky.

Classical operas

I love the modern stuff (try Gregory Spears’ ‘Fellow Travellers’). Quite liked ‘La Traviata’, loved ‘Hansel & Gretel’ (sort of a ‘Young Persons Guide to Opera’). So bored in ‘Aida’ I actually thought I’d died.

DC Universe movies

You know, the rubbish pretentious ones that aren’t any fun. Comics were meant to be a guilty pleasure for adolescents, and should leave you feeling a bit dirty and ashamed but glad you did it anyway. So, not Superman then. Like Bradbury, Stan Lee always understood kids tick and Marvel films have preserved their legacy with wonderful, hidden loyalty points for readers.

19th century female literature

I understand their appeal, a combination of insight, elegance and nostalgia for a bygone era, but I feel I simply left it too late to enjoy them – and perhaps not all literature is for all people.

Westworld

The writer Stephen Volk and I disagree on this one; for me the series purports to be a serious study of AI sentience but can’t make me believe in the outlandish premise, which feels forced and fake – and I detest sex scenes.

Ant & Dec

I don’t know which is which and have no idea what they actually do, but it’s been salutary watching the press who’ve fed off these anodyne celebrities for years tearing them apart. Moral: television can be toxic.

99% of all Hollywood comedies

Seth somebody, Amy somebody, equally lame, equally boring. I loved US comedies up to and including ‘Porkies’. Since then the last US comedy I laughed at was ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’.  My bad, I know; I struggle with nuclear family set-ups because I don’t relate to them.

Sports

I was raised in a family home where the TV channel was changed every time sports of any description came on. My father watched only one; the single worst sport of all – motor racing, with its insistent whine and fumes virtually coming off the screen.

Michael McIntyre

Observational comedy. Isn’t it funny when you can’t get a packet of condoms open? No, not really. But then I’m a Stewart Lee fan. There’s nowhere else to go after that. There are some brilliant quirky young writers emerging now with fresh things to say.

Star Trek (not now, not ever)

Forehead of the week. Lycra, portentous lectures, the smugness. And the pernicious spreading of Hollywood values to other planets (although it would have been just as awful if they were English values). I hear the new series is better, but old episodes set on other planets always looked like sets from bad cowboy films.

The Girl On The Train

All aboard! Destination – nowhere! Incredibly, it’s still selling a self-perpetuating hit because it has two nouns in the title. If this is what readers think of as entertaining writing, then Don DeLillo’s stuffed for a start.

Spies

In a shadowy world where no-one can be trusted, X double-crosses Y who is a triple-agent for Z; needless complications ensue. I liked the film version of ‘Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy’ but I don’t like having to keep a crib sheet when I read a book or watch a film, unless it’s ‘Game of Thrones’ because you know, dragons and axes.

Westerns

Was admonished for saying ‘cowboy films’, the equivalent of calling a harmonica ‘a mouth organ’ or astrology ‘fortune telling’. I get it, I really do; Limited tropes reveal the true nature of mankind. Farms burn. Stagecoaches are robbed. Indians are noble or evil. Still never seen ‘The Searchers’. Really liked ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’. It flopped.

Next: Entertainment I Love That Other People Don’t Seem To Get

 

 

35 comments on “Entertainment I Don’t Get That Other People Seem To Love”

  1. Wayne Crich says:

    There are two things I don’t get:

    1) Circuses – it takes great talent skill and inventiveness without doubt, but I find it boring and not at all entertaining. I just don’t see why people enjoy them.

    2) Dance – very skilful, difficult and demanding I can see and appreciate the time effort and dedication it takes. For me it is just arms and legs and bodies moving around, I have never seen any meaning in it.

  2. Jan says:

    Did you see that “City and the City” last night? – naff title but only naff thing about it.
    Was on bbc2 @ 9p.m.. Really good unusual premise i thought it was about East + West Berlin in an alternative universe but it was even better than that.(!) I wouldn’t have bothered but I heard somewhere someone saying how are they going to make that work on tv? So thought it might be worth a watch.

    This China Mieville bloke looks really interesting he’s all up the workers some Socialist Worker idealist but anyone who labels their work Weird Fiction has got to be worthy of some attention.

  3. Eliz Amber says:

    Tosca, 2nd intermission:
    – So, who’s left for the third Act?
    – [Ticks off characters.] We’re down to the villain and the heros. And Angelotti.
    – No, Mom, he’s dead, too.
    They’re soap operas – once you start to see them as a farce, they’re quite fun. (Though I admit that the end of Aida is a bit of a downer.) I love Puccini’s operas, in any case – regardless of the story, the music is gorgeous (Tosca is actually my favourite). You just have to keep track of the body count.

  4. Roger says:

    .
    The thing about opera is that if something is too stupid to say, you can always get away with singing it.
    For Westerns I’d recommend Philip French’s very good little book to see why people like them. The problem for many people with the Western is that – like many genres – you’ve got to see quite a few before you work out the rules and see which are good and bad. Try Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns – on at the NFT this month – they are deliberate exercises in the genre and even if you don’t like the film you can listen to Morricone’s extraordinary music. I take it you’ve seen “Once Upon a Time in America”, his crime film?
    The only sport to watch on TV is – was rather – cricket in the company of drunken and ignorant enthusiasts in a pub. The problem now is that everyone takes it seriously and all-day opening.

  5. admin says:

    There was one other Western I liked, ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ – I saw all the Sergio Leones at the all-nighters in Charing X Rd in the late 70s and they were all identical except the one that ended with Lee Van Cleef in a graveyard.

  6. admin says:

    Also, dance can be amazing. I saw a thing at the ROH in which dancers hurled themselves across the stage at what appeared to be life-threatening speed, set to Nyman’s ‘Musique A Grande Vitesse’. And Richard Thomas’s brilliant ‘Shoes’ – 10 dancers, 250 pairs of shoes, 5 choreographers, 32 music pieces – all on the subject of shoes.

  7. Brooke says:

    Off Topic for today’s blog but linked to your post on publishing: more data
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180405223401.htm

  8. Peter Dixon says:

    Westerns – look at stuff written by Elmore Leonard, he was a western writer for 20 years before he moved into detective fiction. Look at 3.10 to Yuma, Hombre and also either version of True Grit (plus the excellent novel).

    Ant and Dec – as a Geordie I’ve never had a clue to what they are about. Its one thing to host a Saturday night TV show when you have the talent of Bruce Forsyth, Bob Monkhouse, Les Dawson or even Des O’Connor but how these two got past the audition is beyond me. Did you ever see the attempt they made at remaking a Likely Lads episode? They managed to mangle Galton and Simpson! Like polishing a Renaissance bronze with a pair of turds.

    Star Trek – the original series was written by real SF writers from the 50’s and 60’s. The sets were from bad western movies. Lycra had only just been invented. It begat a genre and paved the way for cliches. Think of how many funny shows would never have existed (including Futurama) if Star Trek had never existed. Can’t put this one into the box.

  9. Mike says:

    The only westerns I have read are by Larry McMurtry.
    Lonesome Dove is an incredible book, evokes a time, place and feeling that convinces me the old west must have been like this.

  10. Peter Tromans says:

    Western films are certainly better without John Wayne and probably at their best with James Stewart.

    I don’t enjoy opera. It needs a huge set with a lot going on – like the Arena of Verona. Dance also goes straight past me, even, or especially, when it becomes gymnastics, which I also don’t understand. Which brings me to sport. At its best, it can be very beautiful, but those rare moments hardly justify the time we spend watching the rest of it.

    We are what we are with the skills that we have. In the words of John Le Carré, “He could relish a good page of mathematics all day long.” And what about politics? Is that entertainment? People spend a load of time watching it and reading about it, presumably for some sort of pleasure? I don’t know why and as usual I don’t understand – I certainly prefer mathematics.

  11. SteveB says:

    I did the all nighters with my then gf at that same Charing X Road cinema! Remember it well. Saw Damnation Alley there at 2am!
    I love the Sergio Leine stuff, but Ince upon a time jn america is the best. The the 60s stuff an opium dream or real??? 😉 But as well as … in the west, Henry Fords best ever, Good Bad and Ugly is great because it’s a panorama of the war, against which the search for treasure is small but personal.
    I also love My Darling Clementine, Gunfight at the OK Corral, Tombstone, and Outland..

  12. SteveB says:

    I also enjoyed the Marvel comics in the 60s btw, I remember the ketters columns which were actually quite knowing and perfect for adolescents like me who didnt realse they were adolescent

  13. Martin Tolley says:

    “Reality” TV shows.
    “Celebrity” TV shows.
    Children in Need – good cause maybe, but dire execution.
    TV shows that put people together with the sole purpose of producing conflict and humiliation for one or the other groups.
    Quiz programmes.
    Talent shows.
    Sport generally. Specifically tennis, a pointless and boring game played by pointless and boring people; and athletics -. running and jumping seem just, well childish really and not a proper way for grown-ups to spend their time.
    Maybe I just don’t like things that are competitive.
    Oh, and anything written by, associated with, adapted from, loosely based on an idea from … Jane Austen.

  14. Helen Martin says:

    Westerns: I’ve enjoyed them as a teenager, but the more history/sociology you know the less relevant they seem. Our family watched Maverick and loved it, but not quite as much when it was a Bret instead of a Bart plot. It was no more relevant than any other western but oh was it witty. My Mother laughed a lot. Her father left the family farm in Illinois to make it in the West. He told his kids that he had seen a man shot in a bar fight (what was he doing in a saloon?) and then he came north to Canada where his partner cheated him of the money they were going to invest in blood horses. He was mostly a grain farmer after that, but always had a team of horses “to plow the vegetable garden” That’s the real West – that and First Nations being tricked out of their land grants and having their children put into residential schools. Hollywood’s romanticism is easier to watch.
    I don’t get circuses or dance, either. Love gymnastics because I did some and discovered the delight of flying.
    I don’t follow hockey but I can watch it with reasonable knowledge (It’s in the DNA) and I can really weep with the people who are horrified at the 14 deaths in the junior team’s bus crash near Tisdale (where my aunt used to live). Those are 16 to 18 year olds living away from home.
    I can watch baseball, but not as knowledgeably as my parents. I play badly & umpire even worse. Tennis and golf are meaningless. A couple in our church had a daughter born on the weekend of the Daytona 500 car race in Florida(?) and they named her for it.
    My Mother had the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on every Sat afternoon, so while I dIdn’t know what the action looked like I was familiar with the music. The sound brings back quiet sat. & the smell of pie baking. I think she wanted to make sure there was some serious culture in our lives.

  15. Denise Treadwell says:

    I love Ballet, and have seen : Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Coppellia, and Petrushka . Westerns : Shane is the best; Syfy: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the tv series . SPY : has to be Tinker, Tailor , Soldier Spy, film . Hollywood Comedy : Boeing, Boeing! ( although I am not sure if it’s a Hollywood production. Sports : Formula 1 , ( for my father discovered again
    due to the film Rush), Baseball, Tennis ( my mum taught me how to score), I watch when here is nothing else , but I am very selective .

  16. admin says:

    ‘Boeing, Boeing”? You must have seen that in your formative years, Denise. Not sure it would pass the #MeToo test now!

  17. Denise Treadwell says:

    But I knew it was a play in London, long before I saw the film!

  18. Bob Low says:

    Blade Runner 2049 – a bloated, egregiously stupid action movie with very little in common with its predecessor. The effect of the admittedly very pretty visuals is undermined by the experience of having to look at Ryan Gosling’s plank-like features for nearly three hours. An unkind film critic in the 70s once wrote that Clint Eastwood only had two facial expressions – smiling and not smiling. Ryan hasn’t quite managed the smiling bit yet. Anyone seriously considering watching this should watch a western instead – any western.

  19. Jan says:

    Tell you what I thinks very interesting (Apart from that proper good tv serial that started on bbc2 on friday night.) I reckon it’s interesting the nicknames that football teams get like Yeovil being the Glovers. Because there was a lot of precision sewing of leather and canvas in the town. Gloves being manufactured there. Which incidentally is why they ended up manufacturing aircraft and Helicopters there. The change from canvas airplanes into metal structures taking place when a specialized workforce had already formed in the area.

    Everton being the toffees cos of their black and white strip. Blackpools are the tangerines or something similar cost of the bright orange strip. Bournemouth are the Cherries cos of a cherry orchard and manufacturing place being replaced by their new ground. Maybe I made that up. Or perhaps the Director was deeply fascinated by Chekhov or maybe this group of lads was a bit backward about coming forward. I dunno. Lincoln are the Imps named for the little gargoyle like figure carved in the cathedral there.

    Loads of stuffs proper interesting and worthy of attention. I struggle a bit with limited somewhat elitist mindsets which finds a good tune in an opera more worthwhile than a good tune from radio 2. Or people who see the ballet as being intrinsically superior to the football. Speaking of which did anyone see the highlights of United v City on M of the D (that’s Match of the Day – sorry) last night? Ant and Dec are great by the way Ants in deep trouble Decs just carrying on. They are comical, popular + in some ways quite old fashioned entertainers. Like this generations Morecambe and Wise. Macintyre’s early stuff was really funny. Not quite as on it now but there was something that really tickled me about listening to him.

    People have listed their genuine likes and dislikes here but there was something about your little list that smacked of a sort of a ‘I’m a bit too intellectual for a lot of this this’ Mr F. Or perhaps it’s just that all lists are not for all people.

    Oh and having finally withdrawn from Anglo Saxon England I have started on H of Mirrors. Just for your information the CPS was not formed until the 1980s. There could be no such character as Ds Gladys Longbright as the woman’s police service was totally separate from the C.I.D dealing purely with with women + children in the 1960s . A job which disappeared with the formation of social services departments in the 1970s. Also now your characters have leapt to being young techies in the the 1960/1970s rather than 1940/50 They can no longer legitimately claim to be the Oldest detectives in London! You have thrown your timeline out of sync at the other end of their careers. Had they extended 30 year employment contracts by a decade – not impossible- they would have been sprightly 60 somethings at the start of your novels ongoing time period. There have been 60+ detectives in the real world. They are pushing on a bit now I suppose How I miss the impeccable research of Mr Cornwell.

  20. Brooke says:

    You go, Jan!

  21. Jan says:

    Well I must admit Brooke till Ant got in bother I was never sure who was who out of them two lads. ( Nobody did I don’t think! ) I watch them with my nephews and they are funny, lively and cheerful. What’s wrong with that? Stewart Lee’s passable but sometimes is about as funny as cramp.

    I don’t see why any form of culture should be judged as being superior to another.

    But I had a late night at work woke at 4 a.m. got watching the gents triples bowling gold medal match at the Commonwealth games on telly + missed going to my aquarobics class (Fat ladies aerobics) this morning and as a consequence Mr. F probably caught it in the neck.

  22. Brooke says:

    Old speak is “fat.” New speak is “traditionally built.”

  23. Helen Martin says:

    That’s fine, Jan. There needs to be a reality check occasionally. The business about not being the oldest in the 1960s is important. I’m not sure when the claim can start to be made. Perhaps someone could read for date and make a ruling. As for female DSs, that is the one part of the time line I don’t think we should worry about because the whole organisation of the unit is a little off kilter so we’ll just assume the boys finagled whatever personnel they wanted, logical, permitted or not.

  24. Helen Martin says:

    PS Jan, Try to avoid those late nights if you can as they play havoc with sleep patterns. (Bowling finals!? Surely there was something else.)

  25. Denise Treadwell says:

    Rubenesque = Fat , Anyway , what does that have to with likes and dislikes?

  26. Jan says:

    I definitely slot into the traditionally built model. (Despite my recent best efforts. ) Cos I am making the super idle I have just decided to give today’s aqua another miss. I’m starting work in the early afternoon escorting a patient up to Dorchester and (hopefully) after a refs break specialling another patient till 2130 or so.

    Helen I love bowls it’s one of those you either get it or not sports. – maybe thats all sports. (All everything I suppose: ballet with loads of boots involved, singing operatic modern fairy stories.) That match at 4 a.m. On Sunday was I have got to say the best bowls match I have seen on the telly. It’s a different thing watching a match by the green. I play bowls myself.

    The gents triples final was played so fast it was like watching bowling on fast forward. The Aussies were all suntanned and muscular – proper athletic looking. The Gentlemen from the Northern hemisphere. (The Jocks) were of an altogether more traditionally built appearance. Looked like they enjoyed plenty of porridge for breakfast and plenty of beer later on in the day. They played amazingly well though and showed the athletes the way home. The second was truly talented. Match could have gone either way but what a watch. Brilliant telly daft as that sounds.

    I have whinged at the Fowler before about his “off kilter” approach to researching certain aspects of these novels. His stock reply is that hes not writing police procedurals.
    But the odd correct fact would go down well. If only for its novelty value.

  27. Jan says:

    I definitely slot into the traditionally built model. (Despite my recent best efforts. ) Cos I am making the super idle ategory I have just decided to give today’s aqua another miss. I’m starting work in the early afternoon escorting a patient up to Dorchester and (hopefully) after a refs break specialling another patient till 2130 or so.

    Helen I love bowls it’s one of those you either get it or not sports. – maybe thats all sports. (All everything I suppose: ballet with loads of boots involved, singing operatic modern fairy stories.) That match at 4 a.m. On Sunday was I have got to say the best bowls match I have seen on the telly. It’s a different thing watching a match by the green. I play bowls myself.

    The gents triples final was played so fast it was like watching bowling on fast forward. The Aussies were all suntanned and muscular – proper athletic looking. The Gentlemen from the Northern hemisphere. (The Jocks) were of an altogether more traditionally built appearance. Looked like they enjoyed plenty of porridge for breakfast and plenty of beer later on in the day. They played amazingly well though and showed the athletes the way home. The second was truly talented. Match could have gone either way but what a watch. Brilliant telly daft as that sounds.

    I have whinged at the Fowler before about his “off kilter” approach to researching certain aspects of these novels. His stock reply is that hes not writing police procedurals.
    But the odd correct fact would go down well. If only for its novelty value.

  28. Ken Mann says:

    Star Trek sets weren’t all from westerns – one was from “Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers”.

  29. Ford says:

    I think Jan needs a bit of a lie down now!

    Taste is a funny thing. I’ve come to the view that if I like something, other people probably haven’t come across it, or they just plain don’t like it. Generally, people are led to what the should like. If I like something, like it! You don’t have to . and vice versa! I worked with someone who was heavily into dance, and couldn’t understand why I didn’t care for it! I eventually had to explain the, “I don’t have the vocabulary to understand it!” Actually, I had no wish to learn the vocab! I get teased about listening to Gong and the Grateful Dead, by people who haven’t heard any! As for sport – I’m supposed to get over excited because there’s golf or rugby (organised brawling if you ask me!) just because I’m a bloke! I find the footy on the telly a bit boring sometimes – I prefer listening to it on the radio …. the pictures are better!!

    “Discrepancies” in the B&M books may be there to see if anybody’s awake!!! Anyway, they’re not documentaries – theyr’re FUN!

  30. SimonB says:

    In case anyone really needs a clue, when they are together Ant and Dec will always* be that way around. As you look at your tv screen, Ant will be on the left and Dec on the right.

    *Well, almost always. When appearing on someone else’s show things may be varied, but if they are hosting the rule is pretty much inviolate.

  31. Ken Mann says:

    I have noticed that if something doesn’t happen to ring your bell it is sometimes assumed that you are in some way its enemy and anti-whatever it is. Personally I too lack the sport gene, but it does’t mean that I would do away with sport if I could. Good luck to those who like it. I just find it mildly annoying that it is assumed that all people do. It isn’t as it I take it for granted that everyone shares my love of William Hope Hodgson or Progressive Rock.

  32. John Griffin says:

    I get spaghetti westerns, especially OUATITW which caused my Jurassic Park loving stepson to sit for a couple of hours with his mouth wide open and silent. No other westerns, sorry.
    Almost no current TV except good documentaries.
    Theatre over TV anytime.
    Prefer real books to ebooks.
    Films with no CGI in general.
    Love mid 60s to mid 70s rock; timeless acapella folk stuff; experimental electronic music; Vaughan Williams but not Elgar; NO tribute bands.
    Taste is soooo individual.

  33. Denise Treadwell says:

    I have never seen Ant and Dec, am I missing anything?

  34. chazza says:

    Denise: Hopefully, you will be missing both of them by this time next year. Alternatively, they will become the Crankies of the new era before morphing – Quatermass Experiment like – into the dwarf in “Don’t Look Now”…

  35. Ian Luck says:

    The movie ‘Porky’s’ is actually Canadian in origin, and still a damn sight funnier than recent comedies. Opera: beautiful music ruined by fat people shrieking over the top of it, and then refusing to bloody well die. Ant and Dec? Nope, me, neither, Sorry. I also notice the use of the phrase: ‘Traditionally built’. Is somebody here a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency’ books, by any chance? My late mother loved these, and liked the term ‘Traditionally built’, and used it, too. I read the first six or so books after mum died, and I will admit, enjoyed them immensely. I love the politeness, and the almost Zen calm of them. I detest sport, all of it, and am quite proud of not seeing one second of the 2012 Olympics, including the opening ceremony. In my opinion, sport was invented to give thick kids something to do rather than drawing cocks in the library books. I wrote this as a joke on another forum, and was shocked when hundreds of people agreed with me. I don’t watch ANY ‘reality’ TV shows, simply because I have no time for the kind of people who populate such dreck – in short, being stupid isn’t acceptable in this day and age, but some people think it’s somehow charming not to know anything. Sorry, but it isn’t. Maybe because I could read and write at the age of three and a half, gives me a bias against being a dim bulb, but I honestly don’t think so.

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