Television is dead, long live television. Dave Phelan takes a look at the week’s most important issues – as viewed through his TV screen.
Live music on television is a scarce commodity in the age of the internet gig, but every so often something happens that unshackles the medium from the relentless wave of bland that’s become the status quo. Recently, Lana Del Rey was universally panned for what was a mediocre but, in all fairness, not dreadful ‘Saturday Night Live’ performance. Conversely, Del Rey had given a spell-binding performance on the gentrified, back-slapping, affair that is ‘Later With Jools Holland’ a few months prior.
While it won’t raise the ire of celeb snipers TMZ, Sinead O’Connor’s return to the musical fold on BBC’s ‘The Graham Norton Show’ last Friday was one of those rare snapshots of the embattled singer at her most brilliant. Norton, who has an annoying habit of lavishing praise on whatever A-lister is on the couch while urging whatever comedian is flogging a new DVD to join in on the arse licking, gobbed the usual question: “Are you all right?” It’s understandable why O’Connor felt a sharp pang of ignominy when confronted with such false concern.
Legendary Irish, RTÉ personality and the grandfather of the modern talkshow, Gay Byrne, may have publically stated that he “cares” a great deal for the singer but surely he was privately rubbing his hands together when she infamously walked onto his show dressed as a Catholic priest, claiming to have been ordained.
Is Channel 4 going to broadcast ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Funeral’ in the wake of the death of Mealnie McCarthy McNamara
Recent dalliances and a regular Sunday Independent column have led to the same false concern being touted. She couldn’t find a man; she was lonely; her best mate was a cucumber; she found a man; she married him; broke up with him and got back with him again. Someone put a straitjacket on this mad woman.
In one, glorious, fell swoop her critics were silenced with a rendition of her latest single – ‘The Wolf is Getting Married’. The vocal idiosyncrasy that made her famous, that ability to switch from that virginal, ethereal, quality to a voice filled with grit, bitterness and despair, were effortlessly displayed.
She will, maybe unjustly, always be remembered as the androgynous, head-shaven, woman in a black polo neck, but what made her great 20 years ago, is that which make her great today.
Who else wears a corset that not only shows off a bust but a Christian-themed tattoo above it? Who else would or could do it? O’Connor is vociferous, controversial and compelling – these are the qualities that make rockstars and Sinead belongs in the upper echelons in that regard.
Channel 4 and Travellers
“I’m a palm tree and she’s a banana.” No, it’s not a Hawaiian themed panto – it’s Channel 4’s ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. There was a time when Channel 4 was reflective of the’ intellectual’ everyman – the type of person who wasn’t afraid to drink Stella and dance on tables but would still watch a film with subtitles.
Now, it seems, the broadcaster is committed to looking down its crooked, middle-class nose at ethnic minorities for the purposes of a cheap laugh. Is Channel 4 going to broadcast ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Funeral’ in the wake of the death of Melanie McCarthy McNamara, who was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity? After all, the ceremony had all the lavish facets of Traveller culture the producers of the show so seem to love; elaborate floral arrangements, loud clothing, conflict, horses, limousines, pomp and circumstance. The only difference is that there was an innocent 16-year-old girl in a pink box, a 16-year-old girl who died because of in-fighting within the community.
Will Channel 4 clandestinely scoff at Traveller culture when it is at its most sombre? Or will it address the on-going spate of violent assaults and drug-related murders that have a stranglehold on the community? Even the most ardent optimist would hesitate to say ‘yes’ on either front.