Maggie & Murdoch

According to papers released by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust, Maggie and Murdoch met for a lunch at Chequers on the 4th January 1981. This was just before Murdoch was confirmed as the new owner of the Times and Sunday Times Newspapers. During this meeting he expressed interest in making the Times a profitable operation with the use of new technology.

When Murdoch made a bid for The Times he already owned The Sun and News of the World, meaning with The Times he would be on his way to Monopolising the Press and bring his one step closer to becoming the media mogul he is today. There was a commission in place, to prevent one organisation having too much control over the media, however the file suggests this was not even a consideration during the meeting. The Fair Trading Act of 1973 calls for each significant newspaper take over to be submitted to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission unless the State Secretary agreed the newspaper was at risk of closing down and was unprofitable. During this time, The Times had suffered several losses, meaning the takeover could go ahead without a referral from the MMC.

The deal made quickly because ministers feared that the newspaper would closed if a sale was not made quickly. This set a precedent because people now know how they are able to go ahead with media takeovers without approval of the MMC.

Andy McSmith said on the matter:  “No British politician did more than Mrs Thatcher to help the rich get richer, and yet all along she privately believes that money does not make anyone happy – except Rupert Murdoch, presumably.”

Over the last thirty years Rupert Murdoch has gone onto add plenty more companies to his  media portfolio, including 20th Century Fox, The Wall Street Journal, LA Dodgers, Harper Collins, Dow Jones, IGN and BskyB.

Do you believe that the present media ownership laws properly safeguard the interest of the general public? I don’t understand how we can have fair, unbiased articles and stories brought to us all under one man’s influence. If the media is monopolised in such a way it means the general public are all subjected to only one opinion and although it may seem a bit extreme to label it as Brainwashing, in some ways that is exactly what it is.  Murdoch’s empire covers so many bases, his organisation’s influence is coming at us from so many different angles, it would be in the interests of the general public to some how restrict his influence. Politicians should not be allowed to hold confidential meetings with publishers! I believe that rather than waiting 30 years to uncover all the sly things our prime ministers get up to we should know about them in real time. 

BBC News – Archived Papers reveal Thatcher Secrets

Will we ever be able to contain Murdoch’s power? What can be done to tighten up Media Ownership Laws? 

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21 Jump Street made me literally cry with laughter

 I haven’t enjoyed a comedy as much as I enjoyed 21 Jump Street in a long time.  Jonah Hill embraces his typecasting as he takes on the role of unpopular Schmidt, who joins a police academy where he becomes best friends with former High-school Jock Jenko, played by the dreamy Channing Tatum.

After the two policemen fail to read a drug dealer his miranda rights during a bust, the pair are reassigned to work for a specialty devision, 21 Jump Street. The assignment calls for the two cops to go undercover at a high school and stop the spread of a new synthetic drug after a teenagers death.  The pair live at Schmidt’s parents house whilst under cover as brothers. On their first day, as a previous popular kid, Jenko expects he’ll fit right in and infiltrate the group of popular kids but both Jenko and Schmidt are amazed when they see just how much High School has changed.  It is in fact, Schmidt who manages to fit in with the popular kids and develop feelings for one of the girls in the group and Jenko befriends three science geeks who teach him a thing or two and assist him in tapping a drug dealers phone.

Having helped develop the story with Michael Bacall, the film is injected with Hill’s usual crude humour. The film is full of unpredictable events and drug-induced insanity. As expected, when the pair are specifically told not to buy alcohol for any minors, that is exactly what they do. The pair throw a mad house party with extortionate amounts of alcohol and stolen confiscated weed.Although the events in the film are incredibly unrealistic, it was thoroughly enjoyably and I would recommend you all give it a viewing. (Also watch out as Mr Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, from the tv series the film is based on, make uncredited cameos towards the end of the film.) The ending was left very open and I am assuming there will be a 21 Jump Street sequel coming to cinemas soon!

I’d rate this film 9 out of 10! 

The Skittles Touch…

This Skittles advert is a clever play on the story of the Midas Touch. The original slogan was ‘Taste the rainbow’ but they’ve incorporated one of the other senses too. In the conventional story everything the man touches turns to gold, whether that be a human or a inanimate object. For the advert, instead of gold everything turns to skittles. This comes with the implication that Skittles are as good as gold but it also provides an element of humour.  It’s an unusual concept for an advert which makes it memorable and would make people talk, if people talk the advertisement agency are doing their job because they want people to want to eat Skittles and make everybody remember about the sweets.

 Taking the concept for the television ad a step further, Skittles also released a series of semi-interactive viral adverts. Engaging the viewer getting them to place their index finger in a certain spot, to become part of various stories by literally touching the rainbow. I think adverts like this mark the beginning of the end for traditional advertising. It’s bizarre videos like this that get people talking about their products, get people sharing the videos via social networks with their friends and also generally entertain audiences.  The viral vids are obviously reaching a vast audience with the video of the kitty licking about reaching nearly 6 million views! This particular viral campaign was produced by Canadian agency BBDO.

Skins Live: The Dawn of the Dual Screen Generation?

For the first time yesterday I participated in the dual screen viewing of a TV Soap. For the Skins Season Finale there was an online stream called ‘Skins Live’ it was a bizarre experience, watching the episode on the box set whilst watching the actors watching the same episode via a live stream. I’m not sure this advancement in technology is an uncomfortable intrusion into people’s lives and that TV alone won’t be enough for us. Does that mean to satisfy our TV cravings we will also need the company of our laptops and PCs? I’m well aware of the fact that television is designed for a passive audience but is this taking it a step too far?

That being said, the live Q&A allowed for followers of the show to get one last taste of this generation of actors before the show gathers together some more fresh meat for generation 4.

I thought the live Q&A was a great exhibition of the exciting things that can be done utilising social media and making TV a truly multi platform media.

The Hunger Games

Yesterday I went to watch the latest teen pop culture film, The Hunger Games. The film, based on Suzanne Collins’ dystopia inspired trilogy has exploded onto the scene breaking world cinema records.  Over its opening weekend it has earnt $155 million, surpassing Twilight’s sequel New Moon’s $142. 

I thought the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence managed to perfectly capture the strong will and firery attitude of District 12’s first voluntary tribute, Katniss Everdeen but when I saw dark haired Josh Hutcherson was going to be portraying Katniss’ blonde lover Peeta Mellark, I was skeptical. I thought Liam Hemsworth (who plays Gale in the film) would have done a better job. I was proven wrong, Lawrence and Hutcherson had great onscreen chemistry and their scenes all felt very natural.

I was highly doubtful that the film would live up to it’s surrounding hype but I was pleasantly surprised, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was the perfect combination of intense action scenes, humour and tear jerking moments. Work has already begun on the film’s sequel, Catching Fire, which is scheduled for release in November next year.

I’d rate this film 8.5 out of 10! 

Question Time

Yesterday was a busy day for the whole of the Birmingham Ormiston Academy. We ran a Question Time Style show for our weekly futures course. The brief we were given was to challenge our fellow students, making them consider a range of options for their future. To do this we had a panel of special guests including Suzy Scott, (Head of HR at PRG), Lara Ratnaraja FRSA (Consultant for creative, cultural and digital industries), David Harte (Leader for MA Social Media at BCU), Tas Bashir (Filmmaker, Designer, Architect and Writer), Alex McCorkindale (Producer of Learning and Participation at MAC) and last but by no means least Matt Windle (Performance Poet who now dabbles in music). Our Panel of Guests was chaired by BBC WM’s Radio reporter, Phil Upton.

Some of the students had the chance to ask the panel questions they submitted prior to the event and the answer given provides us all with alot of food for thought.

The production went pretty smoothly, Production Arts Students managed staging and lighting, Music Tech. Students were in charge of sound and a group of Broadcast Students were responsible for filming the event. As production manager my role was to assist in the coordination of the event and the production team in charge of documenting the show.

Thank you to everyone who participated and I hope the students learnt something valuable from the event.

Take me to the Blank City

As part of the Flatpack Festival The Birmingham International Film Society screened the 2010 documentary about the short lived but influential underground scene, No Wave. It explores filmmakers living in 70s New York when rent was cheap, drugs where accessible and there was a feeling of ‘anything goes.’. The movement righted the commercial elements of the New Wave genre which was popular at the time. It was an eclectic mix of filmmakers, abrasive musicians and artists. It was heavily influenced by funk, jazz, blues, avant garde and punk rock.

Director Céline Danhier showcases the filmmakers guerrilla tactics and drug-induced creativity, interviews with the prominent figures in the ‘No Wave Cinema’ movement narrate the film and give the audience an insight to what the filmmakers,artists and musicians have gone on to become.

Debbie Harry, Lydia Lunch, Micheal Oblowitz, Nick Zedd, Amos Poe, Fab 5 Freddy, Jim Jarmusch…are just a few of the big names that are part of the documentary. It really inspired me to look into the lives of these ‘DIY’ filmmakers. I think it was because they were part of a group of like minded creatives the content they produced was so amazing. They were able to bounce ideas off each other and weren’t afraid of taking it ‘too far’.

Nick Zedd’s work in particular stood out for me, his experimental films pushed the boundaries of what was accepted. His films have been shown around the world and have been banned, admired and inspired many.  His work includes ‘They Eat Scum’  and ‘Thrust In Me’. The latter was particularly shocking because Zedd played both of the necrophilic male lead and the suicidal female lead, the film depicts his two characters having sexual intercourse. It was incredibly controversial at the time and he was nearly arrested.

Nick Zedd worked with cult musician Lydia Lunch, who he dated for a while. During their break up he followed her to London and made a film about her ‘The Wild World of Lydia lunch.’ You can sense the musical influence in his and the rest of the movement’s films. The chaotic, underground music was often used as the soundtrack to their films.

Amos Poe’s work was also really inspiring. He co-directed one of the earliest punk films called ‘The Blank Generation.’ He is still part of the film making industry having recently written the screenplay for Amy Redford’s film ‘The Guitar.’ He manages to evoke strong emotions in his audiences and at the same time challenge them. I can’t wait to watch the whole of his feature film, ‘The foreigner’ and ‘Unmade beds.’

To be continued…

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