Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Messenger, Bullet Wounds, Tubridy: Nothing New Here

Having listened yesterday to Ryan Tubridy pouring ill-informed fury upon David Harrower, the strangely-appropriately-named author of Blackbird, which opened at Dublin's Project last night in a production by the Landmark company, it's great to see a vastly more considered (not to mention professional) engagement with this controversial play already online at Irish Theatre Magazine's website. As the reviewer, Peter Crawley notes that Tubridy's screeching outrage at the very idea of a play which deals with a sexual encounter between a preteen girl and a forty-year-old man "is hardly an aberration":

In fact, it seemed a true measure of the level of cultural debate surrounding paedophilia, even – or perhaps especially – in a country so psychologically scarred by child sexual abuse.

True; most of the Tubridy interview sounded like an outtake from the Brasseye special on paedophilia six years ago. The same levels of stupidity, narrow-mindedness and hysteria were in evidence as Tubridy seemed practically to confuse Harrower with the male protagonist of his play. To write about such a thing as paedophilia, he implied, you must be somehow interested in it, which is sick. And anyway, how could you write about such a thing; how much do audiences really need to learn about this subject? Was Harrower just looking around for something scandalous to write about, Tubridy asked, in a tone which made clear that he, for one, had already made up his mind; did he have children himself? No, said Harrower, and the smug, disapproving little grunt which followed from Tubridy said it all, really. Naturally, he hadn't bothered to go to a preview of the very play he was not-very-subtly dismissing out of hand.

Crawley is right; this response speaks volumes about the level of cultural debate around the subject. But it also speaks volumes about the level and quality of debate and discussion around practically any arts-related subject on daytime Radio 1 programmes. With the new policy of distributing daytime arts interviews between Tubridy and Kenny, the notion of genuine engagement with a book, or a piece of theatre, has been utterly abandoned. It's gotten to the point where anything that sounds like a comment about the work itself, rather than about the personal life, interests and hobbies or (in this case) Virulent Paedophilia Obsession of the work's creator, sticks out embarrassingly, so that even the most fleeting attempt to talk in artistic terms about art sounds pretentious. Witness Harrower, yesterday, using the idea of his characters carrying narratives of their pasts around in their heads; in the face of Tubridy's flaming How Could You Do This assault, Harrower's response sounded like it belonged to a different era, a different realm. Which it did. It belonged to the realm of intelligent radio, where to discuss the arts, presenters didn't feel the need to mock or deride their subjects - or make clear their gleeful ignorance of their subject, another RTE speciality - before, or in lieu of, getting into a discussion of it. Wouldn't it be awful, after all, if their listeners thought they were actually interested in this arts rubbish? Good god, people would turn off their radios in droves.

Funny, then, that exactly this has been happening anyway, isn't it?


boondocks said...

Oh, you are SO right here. I was screaming at the radio during this interview; Tubridy is a HORROR show and he must go away. Sign me up for the Anti-Tub campaign. My only comfort is to imagine him twenty years from now as a hollow-cheeked guest on some awful re-incarnation of the Late, Late. He's recounting the stint in rehab. He's regretting how the drink made him mean to his kids. But he's looking on the bright side and he's grateful to be alive...
RTÉ radio has gone down the tubes! They should have replaced Myles Dungan with Vincent Woods and kept Rattlebag in its place. Instead there is that THING I won't allow my dial to touch in that time slot. John Kelly on Lyric FM is indeed a great consolation. But I still miss good interviews with people in the arts. Wah!

Roadshow said...

Absolutely 100% on the money.
Tubridy may be entertaining but he is completely lightweight and anything approaching the need for a serious discussion should be done elsewhere.
Let Tubridy have the lovely girls and please, for the love of God, give us (the licene payers) someone who knows the arts, current affairs, politics and anything else worthy of our listening.

Sinéad said...

Where the good arts content is shoved to ends of the schedule. Shoehorning it into a one-hour, morning magazine show just doesn't do it justice.

hesitant hack said...

boondocks: good to hear from you again...listening to JK right now. Yeah, there are a lot of "things" on the Radio 1 wavelength right now. And roadshow, thanks for the comment. I used to think Tubridy capable of serious discussion; he seemed to have a genuine interest in U.S. politics, for example. But I've lost all faith in him over the last couple of years.

Sinead, your link isn't working there, I think. For anyone else who has problems with it, just click on Sinead's name to read her great post on arts broadcasting today (or was it yesterday? Sorry, time zone disorientation again).

Sinéad said...

Sorry missus, I must have left something out in the link.

No one seems to care about the arts stuff being shoved to the edges of a schedule that is full of the same kinds of programmes.

I know the time difference probabl won't work for you, but if you're ever up with the lark some Saturday morning, you should tune in to Nadine O'Regan's Kiosk show on Phantom (11am-noon).
Even Newstalk replaced their Arts show on Saturdays.

ainelivia said...

Oh Gawd no, Turbridy up his own ass again with all this moral pontificating, he's a real mammy's boy. If someone could design a tool designed specifically to remove Mr T's head from his rectum, and from our air-waves at the same time I reckon there'd be a Nobel in it for them

Kevin Breathnach said...

I wonder if Tubridy, whose face is being paraded around certain Irish bookshops as part of some national book campaign, has ever read Nabokov?

purefunction said...

One can say what one likes about Gay Byrne but he surely would have treated this play with seriousness and might also have used it as an opportunity to look at Ireland's handling of its paedophilia crisis.
RTE's morning radio and the Late Late Show have been lost since he retired.

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