Join 3,430 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Abroad with Jonathan Meades
October 6, 2007 9:01 AM   Subscribe

"Britain is the most censored country in the developed world, which is bad enough. What is worse is that most of Britain does not object." Ladies and Gentlemen, for the truth about the British Isles, I put it to you that there is only one source worth consulting- Jonathan Meades. (Youtube linkdump ahoy...) Abroad in Britain (1990), Further Abroad (1994), Even Further Abroad (1997), Abroad Again In Britain (2005), and Abroad Again (2007). (and more besides).
posted by robself (21 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't always agree with Meades, but his programmes are the only ones* on TV I make a definite effort to watch. I like the style and the dense literary references in the commentary. I like the feeling that the programmes have been put together without too much regard for ratings. I would like to be Jonathan Meades, but I would need more IQ points and no sense of embarrassment. Thanks, Robself.

*other than MotD
posted by athenian at 9:20 AM on October 6, 2007


You could easily argue that the US or Japan is just as censored if not more so. In the US, no one would censor him, they simply wouldn't produce his show, problem solved.
Also, his pedantic tone of "I'm smarter than you and here's what all of this stuff really means" is annoying.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:26 AM on October 6, 2007


One might add, too, that there is out there somewhere a bullet, probably a Loyalist bullet, with Saint Tony's name on it and that one day his brains will end up on Cherie's jacket, just as J.F. Kennedy's ended up on Jackie's jacket.

Gaah! I hate the tendency of some writers to spell out the literal meaning of every reference as if the audience are idiots.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


In the US, no one would censor him, they simply wouldn't produce his show, problem solved.

There's a huge difference between government censorship, which you're told by the sovereign power that you cannot express a certain opinion; and capitalism, where someone won't give you money for your opinion because they don't feel it won't give them a profit. One is backed by laws and guys with guns; the other is fundamental to the marketplace.
posted by meowzilla at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2007


Thanks for that, been meaning to track down some online Meades for a while.

I'll give Meades a lot of room in his occasional wtf moments because, yes, he does produce television programs that are essentially unmissable. Like programs that actually make you think about things, from that mythological golden age of telly... and at times he does cover over as 'I've cleverer that you' but that's because he probably is.

Great review of one his recent programs.

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:44 AM on October 6, 2007


One is backed by laws and guys with guns; the other is fundamental to the marketplace.

The BBC is backed by guns?
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on October 6, 2007


One is backed by laws and guys with guns; the other is fundamental to the marketplace.

That's really not true, meowzilla, because there are only a few large media companies. Even if they would directly make money from a production, it's entirely possible that they will refuse to air ideas they don't like. Some ideas will hurt them more than the programs will make them in ad revenue, so they won't give them airtime.

If we had broader media ownership, it wouldn't be as big a deal, but the consolidation of the broadcast empires in this country have seriously imperiled any idea of a free market in media.
posted by Malor at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2007


The BBC is backed by guns?
I believe they've shot more programmes than any other broadcaster in Britain!
posted by Abiezer at 1:54 PM on October 6, 2007


Thanks for this; although, I don't really buy the first bit.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:03 PM on October 6, 2007


You beauty, you gorgeous gorgeous beauty. Into this dismal saturday night with nowt on telly and nothing to read, you give me hours on end of Meades to watch. Thank you.
posted by zingzangzung at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2007


"...most of Britain does not object."

Yes, but how would we know if they did?
posted by dsword at 2:24 PM on October 6, 2007


Meades dropped a lot of weight between then and now.
posted by A189Nut at 2:53 PM on October 6, 2007


Meades may well be correct about Britain being the most censored country in the developed world, but other than pornography because of the Obscene Publications Act this is not government censorship that is occuring.

He might not have been able to broadcast his views on the BBC due to their concerns about offending people but he was still able to publish those same views.
posted by electricinca at 3:29 PM on October 6, 2007


One is backed by laws and guys with guns; the other is fundamental to the marketplace.

Both can produce an impoverished marketplace of ideals, which is very destructive to the civil and political environment which freedom and capitalism need. Every crackpot doesn't deserve equal time, but some tinkering to avoid monopolistic echo chambers is worthwhile.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:03 PM on October 6, 2007


With regards to official censorship the UK under the Labour government is about a liberal as it has ever been.

Unfortunately the broadcast media seems to be so obsessed with targeting to 'demographics' that it seems that just about every program is faded photocopy of each other... ensuring that the odd 'odd' program like Meades's are the few oases in a cultural desert.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:07 PM on October 6, 2007


Great FPP! I had no idea Meades was doing TV. I picked up his Peter Knows What Dick Likes almost 20 years ago, and was smitten at his range: architecture, food, literature, he has an opinion about anything, and it's always worth considering.

I must not be the only one to think that: secondhand copies of PKWDL start at 40 pounds on Amazon UK. Not bad for a Paladin paperback from 1989.
posted by kandinski at 6:36 PM on October 6, 2007


I must not be the only one to think that: secondhand copies of PKWDL start at 40 pounds on Amazon UK.

Woah, I've got an unread copy on the shelf, somewhere. Profit!

And I only read the first article, but if it's anything to go by, that's probably why I haven't read it. His argument for Britain being the most censored country in the world is that a commissioner thinks one of his ideas is tasteless and decides not to run it, while in the USA, TV stations get fined half a mil because somebody flashes a bit of nip for a few seconds, and public service radio is so cowed that they can't even bring themselves to broadcast Howl? I'm pretty sure that we're teaching Howl at 'A' Level now.

I'm not surprised that they like him at the Telegraph, though. He's reminiscent of an older version the cool prefect that they all wanted to be buggered by while they were at public school.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:19 AM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg's Beat-era poem "Howl" was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on October 7, 2007


That's really not true, meowzilla, because there are only a few large media companies. Even if they would directly make money from a production, it's entirely possible that they will refuse to air ideas they don't like. Some ideas will hurt them more than the programs will make them in ad revenue, so they won't give them airtime.

I'm in total agreement with the fact that both situations (government censorship and media-monopoly influenced censorship) will lead to a a reduction of diverse ideas, and in the US the big media companies are probably more conservative than the "big bad government". But in the marketplace, there are alternatives: you can self-publish, you can hand out pamphlets on the street, you can pay cash to get airtime on some cable channel. The main difference is that none of these things are illegal and won't get you a prison sentence.

The only alternative to the government is to move to another country (hard to do if you're already in prison) or revolution.
posted by meowzilla at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2007


Boy in court on terror charges: A British teenager who is accused of possessing material for terrorist purposes has appeared in court.

The terrorist material in question is the "Anarchists' Cookbook". WTF?
posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


WTF indeed... Outfuckinrageous
posted by criticalbill at 3:06 PM on October 8, 2007


« Older A record number of floods, droughts and storms aro...  |  An art exhibition depicting so... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments