The New Culture Forum brings you the cultural news and events you can (not) expect to hear about in 2007, as brought to you by our contributors on the ground.
Let’s kick off with Christmas…
DEBENHAM ADMITS: WE DID NOT DESIGN CHRISTMAS”.
The retail giant Debenhams has retracted its “Christmas: Designed by Debenhams” television advert, after it decided it might be offensive to Christians. In the advert, a slim, sexy, modern-styled ‘DJ Santa’ glides and break-dances his way through rooms in his hi-tech grotto lined with robotic toys, perfumes, handbags, and other fashion accessories, before attractive women in stockings help send him out to deliver presents in a flying, high-powered snow ski. A company spokesman told reporters: “As soon as our executives viewed the ad, they realized that we had become so caught up in all the commercial opportunities of the festive season that we had lost sight of the true Christian message of charity and compassion. … We also recognized that some Christians might find our transformation of their beloved Saint Nicholas into a sex-crazed fashion victim, and our claim to have been the true originators of their historic religious festival, offensive.” The spokesman confirmed, however, that an equivalent advert,
“Eid: Designed by Debenhams”, with a similarly sexy, break-dancing ‘MC Muhammad’, would still go ahead in their stores in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia: “The Islamic world is famed for its sense of gentle good-humour, and we foresee no problems there.”
[View ad here: http://www.visit4info.com/details.cfm?adid=39607]
(from David Brescia)
BBC News press release
Head of BBC News Peter Horrocks today banned the use of three key terms on BBC global news output - ‘suicide bombers’ ‘martyrs’ and ‘freedom fighters’. Horrocks made this unusual statement at the inaugural BBC Friends of Israel fundraising dinner. As well as raising thousands of shekels for Israel to spend on reinforcing the controversial security fence, Horrocks said in his after dinner speech ‘it is time the BBC recognises that homicide bombers in the middle east have the same motives as homicide bombers in the west’ and ‘are nothing but barbaric murderous scumbags acting under a veil of pseudo religious nonsense’. Horrocks then sang the Israeli national anthem as a solo before inviting Baroness Jenny Tongue onto the dance floor for the first Chassidic dancing number ‘We want moshiach now!’.
(from Jonathan Levi)
To celebrate the West's abolition of slavery 200 years earlier, Islam decides to join in, apologising for enslaving more people than the West ever managed and for perpetuating slavery into the present day in countries such as Mauritania. 'This one's been on the books a bit too long,' laugh Ayatollah Khamenei and Yusuf Al-Qaradawi at a joint press conference.
(from Mark Sidwell)
BBC, CHANNEL 4 ANNOUNCE FACTUAL PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
BBC Panorama, tonight, 'teaching sex to kids': how a half-century of UK sex-education has pushed us to the top of Europe's teen pregnancy tables. We ask the Department of Education why it thinks more of the same will now produce different results?
- C4 'Unreported world', 'Castro's Gulag': We get unique access to Cuban dissident groups inside Cuba who show us the true extent of the dictator's repression of writers, thinkers and journalists.
Also 'A Bolivarian blunder', Is Chavez driving Venezuela to ruin and isolation?
- Dispatches: 'A Comprehensive failure': with childhood illiteracy increasing - and entry of poorer students to top universities at a post-War low - we ask whether it's now time to 'permanently exclude' Britain's greatest educational mistake - the comprehensive school.
- C4 News special, 'The Bush tax miracle': how American economic growth has been powered by tax cuts.
- BBC File on four, 'The end of the road for the Human Rights Act?': In order to cope with the terrorist threat, is it time to admit the damage caused by the Human Rights Act, scrap it and re-introduce effective national treason laws?
(from Alan Smithee)
THOUSANDS CONVERGE ON WEMBLEY AS ROCK STARS RAIL AGAINST CHINA
Madonna last night led a glittering array of stars from the world of rock and pop in a massive protest concert at the continuing of human rights violations in China. She told the crowd: ‘Chairman Mao caused the deaths of 70 million of his own people. Well Communism is dead but the torture goes on! Make torture history! Rock against China!
In an astonishing new play at the National about multiculturalism which looks set to draw angry protests from Muslim groups, a white couple in a largely Asian town see their gay son sacked from his job as a teacher because Islamic fundamentalist parents do not want him teaching their children. Terrified of causing offence, the local council fails to intervene, leaving the angry and frustrated family to deal with a media firestorm. The play, which opened this week, has already sold out, and the theatre has also been encouraged by the proportion of so-called ‘first-time’ ticket buyers. ‘This play is bringing in a whole new audience to the National’, said a spokesman. ‘We’ve been trying to widen our audience over the years with the £10 ticket scheme, and that’s been a real success especially with students, but for some reason the subject of this production has really struck a chord with people who would not otherwise go to the theatre.’
Leading figures from the arts and media address huge London rally
A massive crowd of moderate Muslims, estimated at nearly half a million, yesterday heard stars of stage, screen and the literary world call for an end to the subjugation of woman and gay men under fundamentalist Islam. Carrying banners declaring ‘Not in Our Name!’, thousands of protesters listened peacefully in the capital’s Hyde Park as figures including feminist Germaine Greer, National Theatre director Nicholas Hytner and Oscar-winning actor Sir Ian McKellen made impassioned speeches condemning the wearing of the burkha, the execution of thousands of gay men in Iran and the increasing tolerance in Britain of what Sir Ian dubbed in his speech ‘vicious attacks on our liberty’.
Interviewed after the event, Germaine Greer underlined how important it was that women in the West stood up to such reactionary forces. ‘It’s the duty of feminists everywhere to speak out in support of women who live lives of total subservience – women whose voices will never otherwise be heard.’
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown admits that juvenile relocation to Mayfair, and its attendant reduced knowledge of traditional Malawian songs, dances and agricultural techniques, may be preferable to dying alone, disease-riddled and abandoned in an African orphanage.
(from Emma French)
Carbon neutral is a load of hippie bollocks," announced Chris Martin, last night, to a stunned audience of Coldplay fans.
"Sorry guys, but the fact is I got it all wrong. This save the planet stuff I've been preaching at you for the last five years - it was just hot air. Al Gore is a mendacious loser twat. Michael Moore is a fat, lying, treacherous c***. An Inconvenient Truth is the worst film ever, worse even than Love Actually or that other terrible Richard Curtis one about the Scottish girl at the G8 summit who converts everyone to eco-fascism. The Rainbow Warrior had it coming. Greenpeace are tossers. Global warming is due primarily to solar activity, perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Wind turbines are crap. Nuclear is our only hope."
After a climactic performance of Yellow, Martin further shocked fans by urinating on a copy of Kyoto agreement, before driving off in a 4 x 4 with wife Gwyneth Paltrow chic in pure sable fur) and chums Thom Yorke and Michael Stipe (both engrossed in Douglas Murray's Neo-Conservatism: Why We Need It?)
(from James Delingpole)
Gwyneth Paltrow abandons her ‘macrobiotic diet’ in favour of a new diet dependant exclusively on conventionally grown Genetically Modified Organisms.
(from Dawn Steeves)
Ekow Eshun says something cogent and to the point on Newsnight Review
Male character on advert/in sitcom shown not to be a bumbling fool; female character revealed to be something other than a long-suffering omnicompetent.
(from James Delingpole)
Spooks finally broadcasts an episode in which it really is the Islamists who are baddies and not Christians/Big Business/Jews masquerading as Islamists so as to give these peace-loving people a warlike reputation they SO do not deserve.
Bono admits: "What do I know? I'm just a rock star."
(from James Delingpole)
‘We are a waste of taxpayer’s money’, declares Disability Rights Commission
‘There’s a lot to be said for the occasional slap’, NSPCC counsels parents
Muslim Council of Britain condemns suicide bombers
Arts Council launches new fund for middle class whites
(from Nick Seddon).
Channel 4 announces that it’s Alternative Christmas Message this year will be given by Dr John Sentamu, the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York known for his outspoken support of Christianity and the celebration of British Culture. When questioned about this unusual choice, a Channel 4 spokesman said candidly: ‘We always aim to be provocative, and so we thought it would be really daring to use the Archbishop. Frankly, all the old counter-culture ‘alternatives’ are pretty much mainstream culture now, and rather than just be known as one of Oriana Fallaci’s ‘phoney revolutionaries’, we thought we’d really try to stir things up.’