Friday, 16 October 2009

Charlie Brooker - Legend

If you don't know who Charlie Brooker is, then you really should make the effort to look him up, cos otherwise you're missing out on one of the funniest and most biting writers in England. In my humble opinion. I first started reading his work (before I knew who he was) when he started tvgohome, which was a satirical site spoofing TV shows and listings. Here's a quick example.

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Find the rest of them here.

Anyway, he's also a TV critic, writing a regular TV column for The Guardian (Screen Burn) and a general comment in the Comment Is Free section of the Guardian website. Today, for example, he posted an amazing response to the despicable Jan Moir article in the Daily Mirror about Steven Gately, which I'm not going to justify with any more coverage than it deserves, i.e. nothing more than a passing reference.

His columns are usually a joy to read, and I find myself agreeing with a large amount of what he says, although Im sure I'm not alone in finding myself and people like me the target of some of his bile.

As an example of his great comic writing, here's his take on illegal downloading of music.

"Apart from the occasional hardcore miser, the kind who'd shoplift at Oxfam, the vast majority of people who illegally download music from the internet do so because they bloody love music. They're resorting to theft because they're either too skint to afford 79p per track (often because they're students), or because what they're looking for is too obscure to find by commercial means, or because it's been leaked and isn't officially available and they're just too damn excited to wait. In the main, these are dedicated fans: precisely the same audience who in days of yore would've filled C90 cassettes with songs taped off the radio. In its heyday, the Radio 1 Sunday evening Top 40 countdown constituted the biggest file-sharing portal in British history, with millions of users hooked up simultaneously, mercilessly downloading content to their tape decks.

The government and the music industry should cheerfully view these people as eager young addicts. Let them have their illicit free samples because once they're hooked, they'll cough up later: when they've got more money, when the tracks are easier to find via legitimate means, or when they go to see an act they only discovered via free illegal downloads play live (and pay £30 for a ticket, £30 for drinks, and £30 for a poster and T-shirt).

But no. They're going to identify and isolate these fans and try to ban them from the internet. Christ knows how that's going to work. Perhaps they'll employ a uniformed enforcer to run in and physically knock the mouse out of your hand every 10 minutes. Maybe an email arrives, curtly informing you you've been fired from Google. Now clear your cache and get out. I guess the powers that be could pressurise local service providers, but if they start cutting off broadband connections willy-nilly, neighbourhood Wi-Fi "theft" will skyrocket. And how do you stop people using iPhones and other mobile internet devices? Smash their fingers with rocks? Position snipers on rooftops?"

Brooker wins again.

Check him out here.



  1. Brooker is a legend. Fact.
    I'm reading his first book, Screen Burn at the moment. It's a little out of date (talking about the early Big Brothers) though still biting.

    I read his Jan Moir piece with great interest as her writing was pretty much the most wrong journalism in the history of ill-informed BS I've ever read.
    He certainly puts her in her place, the skank.

    What about Screen Wipe on BBC4? Possibly the best 30 minutes of my week whenever it's on. So witty and true it makes me laugh til milk comes comes out of my nose. Even when I'm not drinking milk.

    His Games Wipe one-off show the other day was great, did you manage to catch that? As he was previously a games reviewer it was made with a lot of love.

    I wasn't the greatest fan of his Channel 4 show recently as it seemed like the producers had him on a leash with a muzzle and felt a bit watered-down compared to SW. I heard it was in his contract to make a CH4 show as they'd let him make Dead Set already.

    Oops, sorry for the ramble.

    Yo Jimmy, run a power move on 'em!

  2. Nah, you're all good mate, ramble away!

    I don't watch Screen Wipe, we haven't got satellite. :(
    But when I've seen it round mate's houses it's been pretty funny. I prefer his writing though. Screen Burn the book is absolutely hilarious, Dawn Of The Dumb (the second one) has some of his other non-TV columns in it as well. That is also hilarious. But yeah, the recent series wasn't as funny as I expected, although Dead Set was amazing.