Well weapon
February 10, 2015 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s 2005 TV series was a comedy about a ludicrous ‘self-facilitating media node’ in east London. But 10 years on, it looks more like a documentary about the future How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true
posted by fearfulsymmetry (35 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I remember the big build up to this coming out, everyone was very excited because it was a new Chris Morris thing. But when it appeared it was much more Charlie Brooker than Chris Morris. But this was before Brooker was really famous, so no-one really _knew_ that it was more Charlie Brooker. So no-one really knew what it was. So it would be interesting to re-watch it now, in light of Screenwipe and Black Mirror and so on.
posted by memebake at 3:25 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


The prescience of the thing is not too surprising, given Morris' participation. Early 90s satires like On The Hour and The Day Today foresaw the larger media's turn into empty infotainment.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:34 PM on February 10, 2015


As an American, I had the vertiginous experience of not understanding much of the specifics in this article while simultaneously knowing exactly what it was talking about.
posted by clockzero at 3:35 PM on February 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Rewatched recently and it totally holds up. As co-incidence should have it I was in an Art book store in Melbourne at the same time and saw a book that had a sticker on the front that said 'This book is totally hurricaine! Yeah!' and I had never empathised with Dan Ashcroft so much.

I love this as well....

“Chris was adamant very early on that there should be a tiny acorn of likability to Nathan, something irrepressible. He does terrible things but he has an endearing sort of rabbity enthusiasm to him. In the fake listings he really was a cunt, whereas in the TV show he’s a twat – and there is a difference.
posted by HarveyDenture at 3:35 PM on February 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: the vertiginous experience of not understanding much of the specifics in this article while simultaneously knowing exactly what it was talking about
posted by lalochezia at 3:36 PM on February 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yep, watched this again for like the tenth time a few months ago, and it's just as good as ever.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:37 PM on February 10, 2015


So good it was actually unwatchable. I found it too depressingly accurate to actually finish more than a couple of episodes a decade ago. Christ knows how many milliseconds I'd manage these days.
posted by howfar at 3:40 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember Nathan Barley being rather on the nose. I should check it out again. Off to Youtube.
posted by dortmunder at 3:41 PM on February 10, 2015


Wait, the article says that Dan Ashcroft is Russel Brand if you replace the cynical weariness with messianism? Did we watch the same show?


Also:

". Vice, which provided at least part of the inspiration for Nathan’s odious button-pushing style magazine Sugar Ape, is now a multi-million dollar Murdoch-backed business that carries genuinely dangerous warzone reportage while hanging on to its Barleyite roots. A sample headline: “There’s More To The Duke Of Burgundy Than Lesbians Pissing On Each Other”."

That's not exactly a good comparison. It's more like the mainstream news media (I'm looking at you, CNN) turned into Sugar Ape and Vice turned into what the mainstream news media should be (with obvious holdover from the regular Vice origins).



"back when websites were novel"

In 2005? The writer is saying that websites were "novel" in 2005?

And, also, Shingy is a perfect example of why AOL is AOL. They hired him as their visionary. AOL, dude. AOL.
posted by I-baLL at 3:45 PM on February 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Note to self: find DVD box set at home and watch again. It's well weapon!
posted by elsietheeel at 3:55 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


In the first few lines of the episode linked in the article, he mentions communicating to with world (on his Trashbat T9) with twits. Given that this predates Twitter by a year, is this a known reference to some other type of microblogging, or just a coincidence?
posted by ambrosen at 4:01 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apropos of not very much, any mention of Pingu just makes me think of this nowadays.
posted by sobarel at 4:04 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was a Wasp T12 Speechtool (Hoot your trap off)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:08 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


ambrosen: "twit" as in "idiot". Handheld twit machines = handheld idiot machines.
posted by I-baLL at 4:11 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Shingy is a real person? I looked him up with Google, but I'm still not sure. Isn't he some kind of performance artist? Maybe AOL has been secretly infiltrated by a radical artists collective, but nobody cares because it's AOL, so they have to get weirder and weirder to make people pay attention...
posted by Kevin Street at 4:22 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


And I know it will never happen, but the mere thought of a new series with Brooker and Morris at the helm and all the cast intact makes me excited like nothing else on earth.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:22 PM on February 10, 2015


Dan AshCRO-OFT!
posted by I-baLL at 4:31 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Benedict Cumberbatch was in this?! That's really kinda weird.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:41 PM on February 10, 2015


A decade on and I still don't have a cell phone that prints out business cards.
posted by crank at 5:20 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cara Ellison also has some observations at Paste Magazine.
Nathan Barley is a kind of hero, in that because we are paying attention to him we don’t have to examine why we are playing the Dan Ashcroft role.
posted by dumbland at 5:25 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


In case anyone's not seen it, Nathan made his first media appearance (of a kind) on the excellent TVGoHome, a TV listings take-off from Mr. Brooker. Well worth a dig through the archives if you've not come across it before. Or if you have, for that matter. The original series title seemed more appropriate :)
posted by PeteTheHair at 5:27 PM on February 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nathan Barley was soooooooooooooooooooo good. It only gets better on rewatch.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:36 PM on February 10, 2015


In one episode Nathan’s friend Claire makes a comically po-faced, self-righteous but secretly rather narcissistic documentary about a choir made up of drug addicts. Nine years later, Channel 4 made Addicts’ Symphony for real.
dohohoho
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:45 PM on February 10, 2015


Of necessity there were research trips to Shoreditch and Hoxton, then far from the gentrified locales they are now but already testing the limits of stupidity. Material seemed to fall into their lap, like the Vice party where they burned all the mainstream magazines on a bonfire. Or the pub that had been bought out by club promoters, but “to confuse people” they’d kept the downstairs bar unaltered and given all the regulars membership. “All the normal people had been turned into these weird props.”
never change, reality
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:47 PM on February 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


TVGoHome, damn if that doesn't put me RIGHT back into the 00s, wondering how I could make something like that site into a TV show with an American skew.

And yes, watching Nathan Barley was painful. It ground my gears in the way all those unflinching English black comedies do, and no less in this case because my office back then was in Silicon Alley near Union Square in NYC, and I saw young men like these guys every day. And I had a sick feeling in my gut that they were the next big thing. How could they not be? They already came rich and connected into the nascent multimedia realm, and blagged their way through to more influence and money than I'm sure even they thought possible. Or maybe they knew it was possible. Who knows?

I have those old DVDs in a binder. I wonder if watching them will upset me any less.
posted by droplet at 8:16 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


At the time it seemed like a subset of London people were all "Omigod, it's so true, Hoxton is full of wankers!" And the rest of the country was like "Yeah, we know - so what?"
posted by Segundus at 9:04 PM on February 10, 2015


So brilliant it hurts. I've actually worked in a place in Shoreditch where they go around on mobility scooters in the office as a kind of tribute. They also conduct client meetings in a plastic children's playhouse and wear wigs all day. They make apps, including one that I know has made several millions for them in clear profit.

I wonder if it was made now whether they'd include the lines where Barley drops the N-word. As in him loudly asking a black guy serving in a cafe "how's it collapsing, mah nigga?"
posted by colie at 12:13 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Noel Fielding as the DJ who works in a hairdressers where he spends most of his time re-arranging his manga figurines.

So we come full circle: Vice magazine article about the rise of British vloggers - Vain and Inane. You can see how Morris and Brooker would find it difficult to continue lampooning the vapidity of a culture where teenagers are making thousands advertising nicknacks on their decerebrated Youtube blathercasts.
posted by asok at 1:53 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


They already came rich and connected into the nascent multimedia realm

I'm as anti capitalist as anyone, but working in Barleyland for 15 years I have seen the other side of it too.

I can think of dozens of young people I know from all over the world who've shown up in London without connections or family backing and now make very good money doing app design or whatever it is that supports the marketing of things like the 'Wasp T12 Speechtool' (Hoot your trap off). Their skills are almost always self-taught and are in huge demand. They have the same kind of good time life that being in a band or the music industry gave you 20 years ago.

Peace and fucking, BELIEVE.
posted by colie at 1:58 AM on February 11, 2015


You can still get the original TV Go Home book
posted by DanCall at 2:15 AM on February 11, 2015


Re: That Wasp Speechtool advert I linked above, in retrospect it is awesome and kinda surprising that a joke/advert for a tv show that aired 10 years ago is still up.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:07 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


A decade on and I still don't have a cell phone that prints out business cards.

pretty sure you could use Prynt for that
posted by LogicalDash at 4:18 AM on February 11, 2015


"pretty sure you could use Prynt for that"
That is a really terrible website.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:19 AM on February 11, 2015


Note to self: find DVD box set at home and watch again. It's well weapon!#

It's awesome wells. If I remember correctly it has an added-extra booklet that is pretty funny. Maybe I'll go home and scan it.
posted by Summer at 5:50 AM on February 11, 2015


even 10 years on, it's still bad to have a bad uncle
posted by el_presidente at 7:57 AM on February 11, 2015


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