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Posts Tagged ‘Popular Culture’

Football Creep and the Dumbing Down of Media

Gerry Hassan

February 6th 2010

It has been an historic day across a range of huge political issues: the resolution of the Northern Ireland impasse between Sinn Fein and the DUP, the public shame of criminal charges against MPs and a peer, BAE Systems paying back millions after the kickbacks it paid for contracts, and of course, John Terry standing down as England captain.

On a day I spent the afternoon interviewing fellow blogger Tom Harris, Labour MP for Cathcart, in the Queen’s Park FC boardroom, I know that football matters. The boardroom in question, set in a collection of permanent portacabins opposite Hampden, is filled with history and triumphs from another era. Queen’s Park won a spectacular ten Scottish Cups – all in the 19th century – before professionalism kicked in and established the dominance of ‘the Old Firm’.

The room was filled with silverware large and small, and staring at a large impressive cup, hoping it to be the Scottish Cup, I was a little disappointed to find it was some local trophy. In a place of such emotions and memories, including a framed Rod Stewart Queen’s Park strip, I could tangibly feel the power and pull of football, yet the conformity and vice-like grip of the game on our imagination grows alarmingly by the day. Read the rest of this entry »

The Glorious World of Scottish Football Commentary

Gerry Hassan

February 1st 2010

I am still recovering from the amazing experience of being at Rugby Park and the crazy world of last Saturday’s Kilmarnock v. Dundee United match. A gorgeous Scots winter day for a start; it has taken me thirty years of football-watching to see a 4-4 draw and honestly it could have been much higher. United were 3-1 up after 35 minutes and looked like they would score a barrowload, and then when Killie fought back, aided by United kamikaze defending, and went 4-3 ahead in the second half it looked briefly like they were going to storm ahead.

My recent posting on the future of Scottish football has been picked up and prompted even more thoughtful musings from James Hamilton http://mtmg.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/the-scottish-and-scottish-football/ – whose original thoughts inspired my piece and Rob Marrs –http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com/2010/01/we-need-to-talk-about-scotland.html

It is refreshing to see the quality of writing that Hamilton and Marrs display about the Scottish game which is a world apart from the narrow mainstream media diet in the BBC, STV and most of the print press (Graham Spiers honourably exempted). Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland as a Magical, Foreign Land:

Jonathan Meades Off-Kilter Guide to Scotland

Gerry Hassan

January 28th 2010

I have just watched the first part of Jonathan Meades three part series on Scotland on BBC Two, late Wednesday night, 11.20-12.20 available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ml5wx/Jonathan_Meades_Off_Kilter_Episode_1/, and was astounded by the sheer brilliance and aplomb of it on every level.

Here was an hour-long programme about Aberdeen and its architecture. An hour-long programme about Aberdeen which was compelling, challenging, deeply serious and yet with a rich undertow of humour. An hour about Aberdeen with no Aberdonians, no talking heads, no stupid vox pops in Union Street, no stupid local celebs with their inanities, and not one compromise in the direction of the cultural destruction of much of our TV programming in the last decade (step forward Simon Cowell, Peter Bazelgette and Mark Thompson to name but three).

This is a four part series about Scotland and it exposes the sheer vacuousness, limpness, laziness and lack of any effort or imagination in most of what passes for our TV programming in Scotland. Most of what comes on our screens about Scotland seems to be part of some sophisticated, deeply thought out plan to encourage in the Scots psyche a belief that they don’t amount to very much and could not possible change things or govern themselves: a mix of cultural cringe and inferiority complex. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nation of Imagination: The Slow Birth of Creative Scotland

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, January 28th 2010

Tomorrow a long run Scottish soap opera reaches a new stage. I am not talking about BBC’s ‘River City’, but the appointment of the chief executive of Creative Scotland, the new quango bringing together the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.

It has been a long and painful birth. Creative Scotland was like many things not originally an SNP idea, instead stemming from Scottish Labour with its genesis a concept coming from UK New Labour thinking. Many pinpoint long gone Culture Minister Mike Watson as first coming up with the idea, although Frank McAveety and Patricia Ferguson in a procession of Culture Ministers need to take their share of the responsibility.

There is some similarity between Creative Scotland and ‘Year of Homecoming’, another Labour wheeze which the SNP were left to implement, claim as their own, pick up the mounting bill, and take the resulting flak for. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland in Cyberspace: New Media, Blogs and Public Conversation

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 26th 2010

The role of the internet and emergence of the blogosphere is much commented upon in the political and media world. Do people such as Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale have a new found political influence? Will a whole host of Labour bloggers emerge out of the ashes of the party’s election defeat?

In Scotland, there is the influence of the ‘cybernat’ community who have a huge influence. Its black and white zealotry was recently profiled by the Universality of Cheese run by Mark MacLachlan, while he was constituency office manager for Mike Russell, SNP MSP and minister, and his abusive attacks on political opponents.

There is a crisis of traditional media from falling newspaper sales to the lack of sure-footedness at the BBC, which reflects a public culture shaped by a decline in respect for traditional institutions and authority. This week saw the launch of a new Scottish newspaper, Caledonian Mercury or Cal Merc as it is known on twitter, by Stewart Kirkpatrick who used to run the Scotsman’s web pages, which aims to be a new online Scottish newspaper, filling the gap from the declining Scots print media (1). Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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