Stayed up far too late last night so today has been a long fizzle of nothing. I’ve drawn two cartoons and packaged up my Surface. Other than that, meh… I feel tired, which never bodes well for the day. I can’t think when this tired. Even coffee didn’t wake me up.
Despite all of this, I am having a decent day musically. I discovered a new Basement Session from P.J. Harvey on Youtube which utterly knocked me for six. There are very few artists I came to right at the start of their careers but Harvey is one of them; one of the few artists who have given me Grade One weakness of the knees for a huge part of my life. Adore her. So many great videos but I’ll embed one of the less known but equally great ones. Like so much of her work, what’s great about grows organically from simplicity.
She has a new documentary out about the making of her last album. Tempted to subscribe to the trial of the streaming service it’s on but I hate trials unless I know it’s easy to cancel. Amazon Prime is the best for this; The Times is the worst. Easy to give them your details but an absolute awful time having to ring them up to cancel…
In other news, I notice that Sky Sports have sacked three pundits. It’s not really a sports story as much as a media story. It’s noticeable, for example, that they haven’t sacked their most imbecilic pundit, Paul Merson. No, they’ve sacked Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier, and Charlie Nicholas.
Again, this story doesn’t interest me from the football side. I watch Liverpool but I not such a fan of general football punditry. What is noticeable, however, is how social media seems to guide these decisions. As I keep arguing – at least a couple of times a month – our media is shaped not by the best commentators but the very worst.
For all the talk of “cancel culture” it’s notable how many of the people who complain the loudest are heard the most. A career is made these days by being outspoken, extreme, and generally wrong. You’re a success if what you say offends enough people; winds them up on social media so they ensure that your stupidity trends. If you’re the kind of person who speaks sense, you don’t earn the hate, don’t generate the clicks, don’t earn enough money to continue speaking sense.
From a systemic point of view, this is terrible. It’s a positive feedback loop of the very worst kind. Outrage produces clicks which generate money which encourages even greater outrage. Instead of a media that pushes reasonable arguments, we have a media that is continually spoiling for a fight. It’s the Katie Hopkins effect, until, of course, Hopkins got too spicy for the media companies to employ. But, make no mistake, they discovered morality when the advertisers squeal and the advertisers only squeal when enough people were angry enough to mobilise. They simply start the loop again with a different firebrand ready to market their poison.
The whole thing is a crock, the absolute worst of economics driven not by quality but the absence of quality.
Hm… That went off on a tangent and I’d really only sat down to sing the praise of P.J. Harvey, which I’ll do again. This, from the start of her career, was a sound that I immediately fell in love with.